Nothing odd about Radlett Players’ choice of director for classic comedy
- Credit: Archant
When Radlett Players were looking around for a replacement director for their next production after the original one had to pull out, there was one obvious candidate.
Step forward stalwart member of the Players, Willum Scott, who has gladly taken on the mantle of directing Neil Simon’s female version of the comedy classic The Odd Couple.
But then there is not much that Willum doesn’t know about Radlett Players in the nearly 35 years he has been an active member of the theatre company which puts on two productions a year.
Not only has he directed before but he has also appeared in no fewer than 35 productions, taking the lead role in some, and been regularly involved in backstage work including lighting, stage managing, sound and set design.
His involvement with Radlett Players began with stage management, followed by set design and he then got interested in the Olde Tyme Music Hall which was once a regular feature in the company’s repertoire.
From there he moved on to the stage with cricketing comedy Outside Edge his first role.
Recently there has been a bit of a gap in his involvement although he took a key role in the stage production of Yes, Prime Minister, a joint production between Radlett Players and DB Productions, late last year.
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But when approached to step in, he willingly took up the reins, inherited a cast and got into the swing of twice weekly rehearsals.
The Odd Couple was first performed by the Players 20 years ago and Willum remembers it.
But it is the female version that is being performed at the Radlett Centre for four consecutive evenings from April 27 to 30.
It is based on the same story line and the same lead characters but in the female version they are women, Florence Unger and Olive Madison as opposed to the neurotic neat freak Felix Unger and the slovenly, easygoing Oscar Madison.
At Olive’s invitation the suicidal Florence, newly separated from her husband, moves in and is soon finding comfort in cooking, cleaning and fussing. Olive in the meantime is being reduced to a nervous wreck
The female version of such a classic has been a challenge for what is an amateur company as Willum explained: “I want to get a big contrast between Florence and Olive and the set has to go from messy in the first act to Act Two when it looks sterile.”
And they only get a couple of days to prepare the stage at the Radlett Centre for the production and rehearse on it.
He is sticking pretty closely to the script although he has put in a few changes, including replacing the famous poker game with Trivial Pursuit.
Willum has one strong mantra when directing and The Odd Couple is no exception - it has to be fun for everyone involved.
And it is all going well - two or three cast members were able to rehearse without scripts as early as mid March and that, he points out, makes it easier to give direction.
He is always optimistic about the success of the productions he is involved in and The Odd Couple is no exception.
He is confident audiences will love it: “In my opinion, the humour of the female version is even funnier and more punchy than the original and has some hilarious one-liners and wonderful contrasts in mood to keep the audience laughing from beginning to end.”
Tickets are £12 with concessions available at £10 on Wednesday and Thursday, available from the Radlett Centre box office on 01923 859291 or online at www.radlettcentre.co.uk
The Herts Advertiser is offering two lucky readers a pair of tickets for The Odd Couple. The prizes also include interval drinks and nibbles supplied by Georgie’s, The Radlett Centre’s exclusive café bar.
To enter please answer the following question: Which famous American duo appeared in the original male version of The Odd Couple in the 1968 film of the same name?
A. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau
B. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
C. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Send your entry via email with The Odd Couple in the subject heading to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and contact details before the closing date of 12 noon on Friday April 15.
The winners will be the first two correct entries selected at random after the closing date. This prize is non-transferable, cannot be exchanged and no cash alternative will be offered. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Usual Archant competition rules apply, see page two for details.