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Markham Little Theatre's The Odd Couple (Female Version)
 opens to an enthusiastic audience!

Producer Lynne Kowalski and Director Felicia Brennan just before curtain up. 
Months of hard work come to fruition.

On September 19, 2007 MLT offered its opening night audience a special treat, 
a chance to meet the cast and crew, and their families, after the show.

After the show Kerry Harman (left) who plays
 Florence Unger, and Michele Browne (right),
Neil Simon's Olive Madison, come out to mingle
 with an appreciative audience.  In the middle is
Terry Browne, executive producer, and Jennifer Rade.

Shari Thorne-Kowalski (left) plays tough New York
 cop Mickey, but is all smiles after the show with
 family, husband Bob Kowalski, Helen Kowalski,
Shari's daughter Shelly Kowalski, and Virginia Thorne.

Producer Lynne Kowalski and cast member
 Ali Adatia (the very Castilean Jesus Costazuela)
 savour a successful opening night.
Judy Heffernan (left), on stage for the first time
 as Vera, and Daniel Lockart, hilarious
as Manolo Costazuela, are congratulated by
 Elizabeth Wyatt, an award-winning MLT director.
Debra McIntyre (right), the play's Sylvie,
unwinds with sister Krista McIntyre
Shara Carr (Renee) gets a hug
from proud daughter Hannah.
Kerry Harman (second from left) receives
 congratulations from Louise, Sandy Bush,
Kay Stitt and Roberta Bonathan.
Karen Wiley greets cast member
Shari Thorne-Kowalski 


Markham Little Theatre stages The Odd Couple (Female Version)

article and rehearsal photos by Grant Weaver      

The Odd Couple: Michèle Browne, as the less than stellar
 housekeeper Olive Madison, and Kerry Harman,
 as the obsessive Florence Unger.

(Sept. 9/07)            Markham Little Theatre kicks off its 2007-2008 season with The Odd Couple (Female Version), Neil Simon’s 1985 remake of his original Broadway hit.  The show opens at Markham Theatre For Performing Arts on September 19 and runs to September 22.

            On September 4, dropped in to MLT’s Backstage rehearsal venue beside the Markham Museum to visit with the cast and crew.  It was great to see familiar faces and to meet some exciting new performers.

Director Felicia Brennan

            With this play, director Felicia Brennan, after a decade hiatus from MLT, is in her comeback show.  It was ten years of intense activity, including doing her teacher training in Australia and teaching drama there and in England.  She has acted and directed in a number of MLT productions and won a Theatre Ontario Best Supporting Actress award in Les Belles Soeurs and Best Director Award for Bells.

            Asked about the challenges of staging The Odd Couple (Female Version), Felicia explained that the biggest is to find a way to make the production different and memorable.  The play is very well known, ran as a TV show and has been widely produced by theatres over the years.

            They have adopted an alternative twist to a traditional casting.

“We took a slightly different take on some of the characters,” she explained.  “And we will have a different looking set from what you would expect, in terms of the layout of the apartment.”

            The set and costumes aim to recreate 1985, the year the play premiered.

            Producer Lynne Kowalski has worked on a number of MLT productions both on stage and backstage, including assistant to the producer of the company’s 1990 production of The Odd Couple (Female Version), and after participation in some other community theatres, has been back with MLT since last year. 

            Lynne also spoke of the challenges in mounting this play. 

“It’s a very challenging play because it’s a very busy play,” she said.  “There are lots of props. The set is not just a box set.  There is a dining room off the main room, a bedroom to the side, a kitchen can be seen.” 

It is also complex in that the set dressing must reflect the duality of the two main personalities, Olive and Florence.

Producer Lynne Kowalski
Executive Producer Terry Browne

Terry Browne, a pillar of MLT for over twenty-five years, is filling the newly created position of executive producer.  In this capacity he will be a direct link from the crew and cast back to the board of directors in case of problems that may arise requiring unforeseen expenses.

Terry is currently president of Markham Little Theatre and has served in a number of capacities on its board of directors.  Interestingly, Terry was also involved, as stage manager and sound man, in MLT’s 1990 production of The Odd Couple (Female Version). 

            Let’s meet the cast, some of whom need no introduction to fans of Markham Little Theatre, and others who are appearing in their first production with the company.

Olive (Michèle Browne, centre) meets the girls for Trivial Pursuits:
from left, Sylvie (Debra McIntyre), Renée (Shara Carr),
Vera (Judy Heffernan) and Mickey (Shari Thorne-Kowalski)

            Playing the two women whose broken marriages have landed them as the most unlikely and least compatible of apartment mates are Michèle Browne, as the less than stellar housekeeper Olive Madison, and Kerry Harman, as the obsessive Florence Unger.

Michèle Browne

            “The role of Olive,” Michèle told us, “is a role I have always wanted to play and playing it against Kerry has been a lot of fun.”

              Just like Olive and Florence, Michèle and Kerry have known each other for a long time and, in watching the two in rehearsal, the chemistry between them is obvious. Both these fine actresses have over a quarter century with MLT.

            Michèle Browne’s credits with the company are too numerous to list, roles which have run the gamut from drama to comedy to farce, but let’s just mention that Michèle earned a Best Actress Award for Rose in Les Belles Soeurs at the Theatre Ontario festival in 1995.

            Most recently Michèle was co-director of MLT’s production of The Constant Wife which ran at Markham Theatre in February 2007.  She also enjoys backstage work such as set dressing and has produced a number of the company’s shows.  And, of course, Michèle has served on the board of MLT, holding a number of positions over the years, including several stints as President.

            Putting her abundant comic gifts into the role of Florence Unger, Kerry Harman is another MLT veteran.  Kerry has been with the company since the early 80’s and, although she has done some dramatic roles, her greatest talent, and love, is for comedy.  She laughed telling us of Time Of My Life, in which she played the roles of five male waiters!  Perhaps her greatest tour de force was the one-woman show Shirley Valentine.

            Of Florence in The Odd Couple (Female Version) she says: “I’m the hypochondriac and neat freak,” and adds with a chuckle: “It’s not type casting.  It’s not me.”

            Kerry has also served in a number of capacities on the board of Markham Little Theatre and is currently the bookkeeper, a very Florence-like task just the same.

Kerry Harman
Shari Thorne-Kowalski

            Fans of Markham Little Theatre will be pleased to see Shari Thorne-Kowalski back on stage.  Last February, Shari played Constance, the lead role in The Constant Wife and in 2006 enjoyed another great success as Martha in Oshawa Little Theatre’s production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf.  That performance earned Shari a Theatre Ontario Best Actress Award. 

            Shari plays the role of Mickey, a street smart cop and one of the four long time friends who come over to play Trivial Pursuits.  Shari told us her only reluctance in taking the role was whether she could come up with a New York accent.  Well, she sounds right out of Brooklyn now, and plays the comedy to the hilt, showing her great versatility.  Remember the very British Constance and her witty drawing room repartee? 

            After the run of The Odd Couple (Female Version) Shari Thorne-Kowalski will be gearing up for her next challenge, directing MLT’s Out of Sight Out of Murder, auditions for which begin in October.

             Debra McIntyre plays another of the four girlfriends, the troubled Sylvie.  Debra was born and raised in Markham.  She attended Markham District High School and then studied in the drama program at the University of Windsor.  But she was particularly proud to talk to us of how Markham provided her with the opportunities to begin, as an early teenager, to develop her theatrical skills.  Debra first appeared in productions of the Unionville Theatre Company which gives very young aspiring actors a chance to participate in big musical productions.  From there she went on to Markham Youth Theatre and worked on stage and backstage in many of their shows.  At the age of twenty-four she “graduated” to Markham Little Theatre and is now appearing in her fourth show with them.  Her credits with MLT include Rumours, And The Nightingale Sang and Don’t Dress For Dinner.

Debra McIntyre
Judy Heffernan

            Judy Heffernan, in her first acting role with MLT, plays the naive, flippant, and comic, Vera.  Judy has been backstage with the company for four years, having done set dressing, props and assistant stage managing. 

            Judy participated in the auditions for The Odd Couple (Female Version) mainly for the experience and, to her surprise, got the role of Vera.  She describes her experience so far as “a blast” and, in the supportive environment of MLT, has honed her comic skills.

            “It’s been total growth for me,” she told us.

            “Judy has been a real find,” Terry Browne told us.  And I think we will be seeing Judy Heffernan on stage in the future.

            For Shara Carr, who interprets the role of Renée, this production brings her, in a sense, full circle. The last time Shara appeared on stage at Markham Theatre she was participating in her graduation ceremony from Unionville High School where she had been enrolled in the school’s new performing arts program.  Now, after twenty years away from acting, during which she worked on her career and started her family, she returns to the Markham Theatre stage. 

            “It’s like coming home,” she told us.

            She loves the character she plays.  Renée’s emotions run the gamut from funny, to angry, to sad.  Renée, Shara explained, is fun on the outside, but intense internally and it is a challenge to balance this duality in her character.

Shara Carr

            Another challenge Shara has to balance, as do all the actors, is a daytime professional life with the a busy evening and weekend schedule of rehearsals.

            “I love it,” she said.  “The busier I am the happier I am.”

            There you have it, the two incompatible apartment mates and their four girlfriends.  Neil Simon’s plot thickens when Olive and Florence’s two handsome, and very Spanish, neighbours come calling. 

Florence (Kerry Harman) entertains Jesus and Manolo (Ali Adatia and Daniel Lockart)

Daniel Lockart

            Daniel Lockart, in the role of Manolo Costazuela, is making his first appearance with Markham Little Theatre.  Daniel came to Canada from Panama fourteen years ago.  His most recent roles were in Squabbles with Century Church Theatre and Out of Order with Theatre Aurora.  He has also been involved with Second City and has done improv.

            Daniel’s acting career began as a child in Panama where he appeared in television commercials. 

            As Manolo Costazuela, Daniel had to adapt his South American Spanish accent to the Castilian, or European, sound called for by his role.  Growing up in Panama he heard the Castilian accent of his grandfather who was from Spain but was taught in school and at home to pronounce in the South American style. 

            “Now,” he chuckled, “I am being told to do things that in the past I was told not to do!”

            Daniel’s brother on stage is Jesus Costazuela, played by Ali Adatia.  

            Ali is appearing in his first production with Markham Little Theatre.  He has most recently performed with Scarborough Theatre Guild, Don’t Just Lie There Say Something in 2006 and Murder Among Friends in March 2007.  He has also acted in The Butler Did It with Herongate Barn Dinner Theatre.

            Ali enjoyed the challenge of acquiring a Castilian accent but, unlike Daniel, at least did not have to unlearn anything! 

There is another challenge in his role.

Ali Adatia

“Jesus appears in just one scene, in the second act, so you can’t warm up,” he explained. 

            It’s a great scene.

            “You have to be ready to hit the ground running,” he laughed.

Stage Manager Amy Pialagitis

            Markham Little Theatre’s The Odd Couple (Female Version) has all the ingredients for a delightful evening.  Along with a great story and script by Neil Simon, a gifted and energetic cast working under the direction of a talented young director, the audience will also be treated to MLT’s usual stunning set, a New York brownstone, gorgeously furnished ... and with sixteen foot windows! 

            So, don’t miss it.  Once again, the show runs September 19-22 at Markham Theatre For Performing Arts.  Tickets can be purchased through the box office at 905-305-7469.

Set builders Sue Brown and Grant Williams Set Designer René Vriends
Costume Designer Maria Cerone Karol Kowalski wears many hats!

Sally Mason, Lisa Cereone and Will Pialagitis
look after set dressing and the play's many props

For complete show details click here.

To read more about Markham Little Theatre visit


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