Dinner Theatre returns to UIndy

The annual dinner theatre is approaching fast, with this year’s show being “The Odd Couple (Female Version).” The classic show gets a fresh new take with women playing the roles that were originally male.

Assistant professor of theatre James Leagre, director of the show, said he had a very specific reason for choosing the female Odd Couple.

“I specifically wanted to do the female version [of  “The Odd Couple,”] primarily because we have so many strong, talented actresses in the department,” he said.

“The Odd Couple (Female Version),” written by Neil Simon, is a comedy that focuses on two friends Florence Unger and Olive Madison, both recently divorced, who become roommates.

The cast consists of junior Morgan Jackson, junior Justess Hurst, sophomore Lizz Krull, freshman Paeton Chavis, freshman Kristine Storms, freshman Elizabeth Holbrook, freshman Josh Kruze and senior Nate Coder. All are theatre majors. Kruze said that the cast members are all friends and that it is incredibly helpful to incorporate that friendship when transitioning to the stage, especially in a show the central theme of which is friendship.

Actresses for “The Odd Couple (Female Version)”  rehearsing the opening scene of the performance. Photo by Erik Cliburn
Actresses for “The Odd Couple (Female Version)” rehearsing the opening scene of the performance. Photo by Erik Cliburn

Jackson, who plays the role of Florence Unger said acting in a dinner theatre is different from acting in traditional shows.

“It’s so different. First off, there are more people; there are always more people at dinner theatre shows. Also, there is more energy. Stepping out on stage in a dinner theatre show, you can tell the difference, you can feel the energy from all the people there and that propels you forward,” Jackson said. “With the choice of people that are in the show and how strong of a bond we already have, I’m just really excited to see everything come together, and it will soon.”

 

With the show taking place in the dining hall, rather than Ransburg Auditorium, many of the technical aspects must be tweaked to accommodate the space, so that all audience members can hear and see the stage.

“You have a lot [of] external sounds that are happening. It’s acoustically not set up necessarily for theatre,” Leagre  said. “You have a lot of elements working against you, so the actors have to be even more focused.”

Krull, who plays Mickey, a police officer who is friends with Florence and Olive, has a background in the technical aspects of theatre.

“I’m a bit nervous because they didn’t build the dining hall with theatrical acoustics in mind. So you have to be very aware of your projection and making sure to enunciate all of your words, because it’s such an enormous space,” Krull said. “So I’m a bit nervous about that part. But I’m extremely excited because we get really good audiences for this.”

Every director and actor has his or her own method of getting into character and understanding the character’s point of view. Hurst, who plays the character Olive, said that Leagre gave an exercise that has helped her bring her character to life.

“James has had us envision our characters as animals, and we’ve done a lot of work connecting animalistic behaviors to our specific characters. And it has been a really good foundation,” Hurst said.

The show runs from Feb. 20-22 and 26-28, with a free preview on Feb. 19. Tickets are available at the Event Ticketing Center website, www.uindy.edu/arts/ETC.