Odyssey’s first show of 2018-19 season a humorous nod to friendships

Odyssey Productions cast members of Four Old Broads rehearse a scene ahead of the show's Nov. 22-24 run at Plaza 88 (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Odyssey Productions is putting the finishing touches on a show that has been described by some as Golden Girls rebooted.

The comedy, Four Old Broads, tells the story of four residents of a retirement home who figure out that someone is messing with their medication. They embark on a series of sometimes-wacky adventures as they try to get to the bottom of it before they go on vacation.

The show is a character-driven comedy, making the chemistry between the actors an essential part of bringing together a convincing performance. Luckily, according to director Layla Shuparski, there have been no issues finding that chemistry.

“It’s nice. I have a lot of people who have worked together before, so they’re used to each other, they’re not as inhibited as you are hen meeting new people,” she said.

“They’re really, really good together.”

The other challenge of this show is ensuring everyone stays in character. The actors playing the four leads are all significantly younger than the person they play on stage.

“It’s been quite the experience since I’m only in my 30s and I’m playing an 80-year-old,” said Chantelle Hovdebo, who plays Eaddy Mae Clayton, a deeply Christian woman who can’t stop praying for her friends.

“It’s been interesting trying to pull that together, but the cast is amazing. We mesh really well, we get along and have lots of laughs.”

Clayton’s friends at the retirement village include a retired burlesque queen, a newcomer suddenly losing her memory and a woman obsessed with her favourite soap opera and planning her own funeral. Meanwhile, Sam Smith, a retired Elvis impersonator, keeps going around trying to bed every woman in the building.

Cathy Worobetz is playing the role of Imogene Fletcher, a southern woman hooked up to an oxygen machine who is seeing her memory fade away.

“The southern accent was scary for me,” Worobetz said, “but it’s fun. It’s got some funny lines in it and I’m enjoying watching the melding (of the cast), getting rid of the script and playing face to face, working off of reactions.”

According to Shuparski, the show also features some colourful props and costumes, including a big lollipop, a Shirley Temple costume and leisure suits. She said that, even though the show is a comedy, there are some more poignant moments too.

“There are a lot of great moments (with the characters) coming to each other’s defence and developing on past things you have to overcome. The friendship between them is tight, which is nice.”

Hovdebo said that over the course of the show, three of the characters develop a friendship with a fourth, someone they were annoyed with at the beginning.

“In the end, we’ll grow to love her,” she said. “You’ll see that relationship develop.”

“She is unique in her own way,” Shuparski said of the fourth character, “always planning her funeral. They get her to see the joy in life.”

The show runs from Nov. 22-24 at Plaza 88. The Nov. 22 performance is a show only, while the Nov. 23 and 24 performances feature a dinner and a show. Tickets must be bought in advance so the caterer can have numbers for the dinner theatre. Tickets are on sale at Canadian Tire Customer Service.

“People can expect a good evening,” Worobetz said.

“It’s going to be really funny and unexpected with the goofiness these women get into or how they try to solve their problems.”