The Picketwire Players Community Theatre has been a long-standing beacon of inspiration in the community of La Junta, Colo. In fact, this year marks the Picketwire Players’ 50th year, and who better than the cast of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple: female version” to kick off this exciting season?

This is a show that not only embodies every form of comedy imaginable, but carries with it a very strong and heartfelt message about what it truly means to be a friend and how, despite all differences, there is always something to be learned from seeing someone else’s point of view.

Laughs were immediate, for as soon as the lights came up on Sylvie (Ashley Jo Kelley), Mickie (Hannah Smith), Renee (Angelica Leija), and Vera (Destini Tafoya). These four ladies, caught in the middle of a game of Trivial Pursuit, perfectly set the stage, and gave for a very strong opening to the show. Kelley, Smith, Leija, and Tafoya played off of each other in an effortless yet natural way, and the dynamics between these four made for quite a humorous run throughout the production.

Hosting this game night was Olive Madison, portrayed by Kelly Jo Smith. Olive, a bold New-Yorker who does not mind if the food in her (hardly working) refrigerator rots, balances her life the best way she can. In her 11th floor apartment, she lives a lackluster life; complete with the inability to deny her ex-husband a check every time he calls needing financial support. Regardless, Olive enjoys the company of others and remains hopeful that she will not waste away in her apartment. Smith was the person needed to carry such a role. Audience members witnessed a complete transformation of Olive’s character that only Smith could pull-off as she confidently portrayed the struggles of having to overcome life’s challenges in order to help someone you care about.

Enter: Florence Unger. Florence, cleverly carried by Jeannie Larsen, unexpectedly arrives at Olive’s door - buckled under the weight of a one-sided decision made by her husband: to break-off their marriage of 14 years. While with her husband, Florence lived a life of luxury and comfort. In fact, stated that if she were to stop spending, just one day, the entire city of New York would be forced to shut down! It then comes as no surprise that, after agreeing to live in Olive’s unkempt apartment, several comical, uproarious scenarios ensue. Larsen was absolutely phenomenal as she balanced Florence’s fragile, sensitive tendencies with the proud housewife habits.

Larsen and Smith are a timeless duo that play off of each other so well and it is a treat to all who witness the scenes they create together.

Enthusiastically making his theatre debut is Mr. Ed Vela. It is always a delight to witness the confidence that someone carries when they are on stage for the first time. Vela, who played Jesus Costazuelo - alongside Jeffrey Reed as Manolo Costazuelo - clearly enjoyed being on the “other side of the curtain” as he enthusiastically portrayed the Spanish brother. 

Susie Sarlo, director, chose an excellent show and admirable cast to commence the 50th season of Picketwire Players. Everyone did a phenomenal job, characters were strongly developed, and comedic timing was perfect every time. That’s not even the whole picture, that’s just the frame! Do not miss this excellent show!

“The Odd Couple: The Female Version” will continue to run Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling (719) 384-8320.