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Belfield Theater offers a slice of the Big Apple with spring play

Cat Wranglers Productions will serve up a slice of New York City this weekend, performing its rendition of the Neil Simon play "The Odd Couple: Female Version."

The Odd Couple: female version
Cat Wranglers Productions rehearses the first act of "The Odd Couple: Female Version."
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

BELFIELD, N.D. — Set in Manhattan with thick New York accents, spicy drama and 1980s fashion, the nonprofit theater company Cat Wranglers Productions presents "The Odd Couple: Female Version," and will hit center stage this weekend in Belfield.

“The Odd Couple: Female Version” will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Belfield Theater. Tickets can be purchased at the door at a cost of $15 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors.

Jackie Hope is the director, set and sound designer. She advised theater goers to leave the kids at home this time.

“It’s not a show for children because they’re smoking, there’s profanity, there’s sexual situations and it’s funny as heck,” Hope said.

She explained that it’s a spinoff Neil Simon did on one of his own works.

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“Neil Simon wrote 'The Odd Couple' in the 1960s, and then in the 80s he revised it to do the female version. So instead of Felix and Oscar, it’s Florence and Olive — just a total role reversal. Instead of two English women that live upstairs, they have two Spanish men,” she said. “This show has a lot of very experienced actors. Every one of them has been on stage at Dickinson State, and most of them have degrees from Dickinson State… I would say the number amongst us all is 300 plus, and that would be conservative. That doesn’t count high school.”

For those unfamiliar with the play, Hope gave a brief plot teaser.

“What goes on at the trivia game stays at the trivia game. They're playing Trivial Pursuit. So the show opens with a group of women playing Trivial Pursuit and talking girl talk. One of their friends comes in. She’s late for the game. They learn that she and her husband have broken up, and she’s very upset,” Hope said.

The owner of the apartment, a divorcée herself, is very close with the woman so they decide to move in together.

“The problem is that Olive is a slob and Florence is a neat freak. Things go badly,” she said.

The inspiration to choose this play came from a fellow North Dakota theater group, Hope said.

“It was done in Bismarck about a year ago, a friend from Dickinson State was in it and I thought it was well received there. And I’ve always loved the male version,” she said. “Neil Simon is well known, and a lot of us grew up watching 'The Odd Couple' tv show.”

Jordan Selle plays Olive Madison and Betsy Brandvik plays Florence Unger. Selle said this will be her on-stage debut as an actress, and the first theater production she’s been involved in since graduating from DSU in 2013. They’ve been rehearsing for a month and a half Sunday through Thursday, from roughly 7:30 to 9 p.m.

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“It’s a big commitment. It’s kind of nice that it’s a short rehearsal process because we are busy moms, we both have kids. It’s nice for us to be able to come in after bedtime, put up a fun show and have something for ourselves,” Brandvik said, explaining that she’s enjoyed working with Selle. “We actually met in college theater, real life best friends. So this has been a really fun experience for us.”

Selle said she’s excited for the big weekend.

“All the performers are just perfectly cast and it’s a fun show. So I hope everyone comes out and sees it, to watch this chemistry and this little piece of fun we’ve made. It’s really going to be a good time,” she said.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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