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DODDS teachers Barbara Bowman and Cal Grosshuesch portray a London couple visiting Beverly Hills in Neil Simon’s “California Suite.”

DODDS teachers Barbara Bowman and Cal Grosshuesch portray a London couple visiting Beverly Hills in Neil Simon’s “California Suite.” (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

DODDS teachers Barbara Bowman and Cal Grosshuesch portray a London couple visiting Beverly Hills in Neil Simon’s “California Suite.”

DODDS teachers Barbara Bowman and Cal Grosshuesch portray a London couple visiting Beverly Hills in Neil Simon’s “California Suite.” (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

Yokosuka International Players Patti Fitts, Jessi Kenyon, Franklyn DeCoteau and Chris Kasparek are Chicago couples on the brink in Neil Simon’s “California Suite.”

Yokosuka International Players Patti Fitts, Jessi Kenyon, Franklyn DeCoteau and Chris Kasparek are Chicago couples on the brink in Neil Simon’s “California Suite.” (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

“California Suite” volunteer Chris Woody laughs with actress Nancy Kelley-Burne as they get the prop list together outside of the Little Theater Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

“California Suite” volunteer Chris Woody laughs with actress Nancy Kelley-Burne as they get the prop list together outside of the Little Theater Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Neil Simon never met Chris Kasparek.

But the playwright might have had him in mind when he wrote “California Suite,” jokes Patti Fitts.

In everyday life, Kasparek is a mild-mannered school-age program coordinator. But at Monday’s rehearsal at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Little Theater, he was cracking everyone up as the hot-tempered Mort Hollender, one of the players in Simon’s “California Suite.”

Fitts, a Department of Defense Dependents Schools teacher, then becomes Beth Hollender and starts yelling, too. Then all slapstick breaks loose in Suite 203 and 204 as the Yokosuka International Players prepare for Thursday’s and Saturday’s performances.

“This play really runs the gamut of comedy, from cerebral to farce to slapstick,” said director Bill Spearman.

He chose the play for the theater group’s spring show because “it’s hilarious,” he said. Besides, he joked, he didn’t recognize the other plays on the list.

Along with Simon’s best-known works of “The Odd Couple,” “Biloxi Blues” and “Lost in Yonkers,” he wrote a number of hotel plays, including “Plaza Suite” and “London Suite.” “California Suite,” first performed in 1976, is set in a few rooms in a Beverly Hills hotel. The audience peers in on what happens to the five couples staying there as they visit from New York, Philadelphia, London and Chicago.

It’s an adult comedy, definitely PG-13, so leave the young ones at home, advises the cast.

YIP, formerly the Yokosuka Little Theater Group, has been around for decades and actually performed “California Suite” 20 years ago, said Winton “Winky” White, who is running the sound and lights.

“Comedies are always good. People love to laugh,” White said. “And we love to show off.”

So why do they give up their nights for weeks on end for three performances?

It’s not just to raise money for scholarships for Nile C. Kinnick High School graduates, White said, though that is part of it.

“It’s the applause — that’s why we do it,” Spearman said. “We want the rah-rah sis-boom-bah.”

There will be three performances of “California Suite” at Kinnick High School’s Little Theater. The first performance is Thursday at 7:30 p.m.. The final two performances are Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $10.

Let’s go to the theater

Yokosuka International Players Production: Neil Simon’s “California Suite”

Location: Kinnick High School’s Little Theater, Yokosuka Naval Base

Dates: Thursday, May 18: 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 20: 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10 at the door. Sales begin 30 minutes before each show.

Reservations available at yokosukainternationalplayers@yahoo.com but not required

— Stars and Stripes

Allison Batdorff / S&S

“California Suite” volunteer Chris Woody laughs with actress Nancy Kelley-Burne as they get the prop list together outside of the Little Theater Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

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