Joshua Clayton Henry, 18, describes his bedroom as a man cave and his possessions "on the slobby side.'' On the other hand, his buddy Danny Hauser, 18, describes his bedroom as tidy. "And when it comes to my stuff, like my DVD collection, I am real organized.''
However, when the theater students perform in Largo High School's version of the Odd Couple, art will not be imitating life. The seniors are portraying two of Neil Simon's most-beloved characters. It will be Hauser who will be the slovenly Oscar Madison, and Henry the meticulous Felix Ungar.
"Yes, it definitely is a switcharoo,'' said Henry, when asked about playing the role of the notorious neat freak. "I'm the polar opposite of Felix, and a lot of people were surprised when they found out I was Felix and Dan was Oscar. They thought it'd be the other way around.''
According to Debbie Wortock, Largo High School's drama instructor, the actors were up to the challenge.
"Truthfully, I first pictured the roles to be the other way around, but after the auditions, we went with it, and boy, have they been able to break out of playing the stereotypes,'' said Wortock, 59.
The Odd Couple, first performed on Broadway in 1965, was made into a movie with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and ran as a TV series from 1970 through 1975. The story revolves around Felix and Oscar, two poker buddies who decide to become roommates in Oscar's New York apartment after their marriages fall apart. Oscar, with his messy habits, keeps Felix, a fastidious hypochondriac with an assortment of allergies, teetering on insanity. And vice versa.
For Wortock, who has been at Largo High since 1984, the time was right for The Odd Couple. She chose the Neil Simon play because of this particular mix of actors.
"I've never done The Odd Couple before, but then I never had the boys that I thought could carry it off like this group,'' she said.
The show includes roles for six males and two females. Along with Henry and Hauser, the actors include Frank Menendez as Murray, Michael Shurtz as Speed, Matt Smith as Vinnie and Nathan Lanz as Roy. The two female roles, the Pigeon sisters, will be played by two sets of actors. On Thursday night, Jenny Shelby will play Gwendolyn and Mary Ellis Glymph will play Cecily; On Friday night, Angela Gunn will play Gwendolyn and Brittany Butler will play Cecily.
Unlike his friends, Menendez, also a senior, saw himself in the role of Murray from the beginning. " I am obviously not a cop, but I do worry a lot like Murray. He is lively, and I think I fit the lively mold pretty well,'' said Menendez, 18.
For Wortock, the final curtain will bring both sweetness and sorrow. "When this group of kids first came in, they immediately loved the theater, and I'm going to miss them. You have to remember, special students do not come along every year, and when they do, it just brings so much joy.''