I have to admit at the start that my eyebrows were raised high at the prospect of the feminization of Neil Simon's popular comedy "The Odd Couple."
The story of a comic pair of mismatched roommates, messy Oscar and fussy Felix, was an instant hit when it opened on Broadway in 1965 with Walter Matthau and Art Carney.
The play was further popularized by a smash movie and a winning television series.
Why mess with success? The only reason, I dare say, would be to give the familiar proceedings a twist, new life for an old comedy. It works.
Springfield Community Theatre enthusiastically delivers a spry and entertaining show that will make you laugh throughout.
This time the enduring duo are called Olive and Florence. After she's been dumped by her husband, housewife Florence moves in with the lonely television producer Olive.
Dialogue is changed slightly for the new sex. The gals now make off-color comments about men, and the weekly poker game is switched to Trivial Pursuit.
But the tension is still the same: How crazy can two different people drive each other?
Pretty far, it seems, if one is so neat that she sprays the phone with Lysol after each use and the other so slobby that milk in their refrigerator stands up by itself without a bottle, it is so old.
Like all Simon material, most of the action is verbal sparring on everything from relationships to each other. "You like yourself so much that if you had two more legs, you'd take yourself out dancing," says Olive to the egotistical Florence.
The mouthy lefts and rights fly as Florence vacuums and Olive tosses clothes about.
Along the way, they have a comic tugging match with an electrical cord, toss around linguine amd share a disastrous double date with two brothers down the hall.
The comic setups don't really matter much, because what's key to the whole thing is the boxing match between the pair. And both Debby Booth as Olive and Mary McGowan as Florence are on target.
Booth, short and squat, does a perfect slow burn, continually rolling her eyes at Florence's annoying ways.
A strong presence on stage, she brings needed gravity to McGowan's flights of fidgeting. McGowan, spindly and nervous as an out-of-control ostrich, manages to make quite a fuss.
As she moves across the stage -- cleaning, dusting and primping -- she leaves a wake of crazed friends and laughs.
The other supporting players, pals of Olive and Florence's, make a nice mix -- easily believable as old buddies.
The set, which goes from slime pit to house beautiful, is up to the fine Springfield standards, though the lighting is a little harsh.
The only serious quibble is with the comic timing. Some jokes are delivered rather slowly, lacking the zing they deserve, but not enough to undermine anything.
What's important here is that "The Odd Couple" works just as well with women as with men. If smiles are a measure of equality, there is plenty of that here.