Over the years, viewers have suggested that ''33 News Daybreak'' hosts Jim Loboy and Len Rome tape a promo for the morning show that spoofs ''The Odd Couple.''
''He's more a stickler for detail and I'm more carefree,'' Loboy said.
For example, the studio has a clock that the hosts have to pay attention to so they know exactly when they have to cut to the network programming.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Andy Gray
Len Rome, left, and Jim Loboy, hosts of ‘‘33 News Daybreak’’ on WYTV, star in the Victorian Players production of ‘‘The Odd Couple.’’
''Len is neurotic about the clock ... And I'll mess with the clock just to throw him off. I used to blame it on (evening news anchor) Stan Boney - 'Stan must have changed the clock.'''
For the next three weekends, the WYTV duo will do more than tap their inner Felix Ungars and Oscar Madisons for a 30-second spot. They will play the two lead roles in the Neil Simon comedy at Youngstown's Victorian Players Theater.
The casting idea was the brainchild of Victorian managing director J.E. Ballantyne Jr. The theater originally planned to open the 2012-13 season with Simon's ''The Sunshine Boys,'' but when he heard another area theater was going to do the show, Ballantyne decided to switch to ''The Odd Couple.''
When You Go
WHAT: ''The Odd Couple''
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 23
WHERE: Victorian Players Theater, 702 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $10 adults and $8 students and senior citizens. For reservations or more information, call 330-746-5455.
THE SEASON: ''The Odd Couple'' is the first of six shows in the Victorian Players' 2012-13 season. Other productions include:
Oct. 12-28 - ''Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death''
Feb. 8-24, 2013 - ''Finale''
April 5-21, 2013 - ''Below the Surface''
May 3-19, 2013 - ''The Fantasticks''
June 7-23, 2013 - ''The Rainmaker''
Season tickets good for admission to all six productions are $50 for adults and $40 for students and senior citizens.
Special events not part of the regular season include:
Nov. 30-Dec. 9 - ''In the Spirit of Christmas''
Jan. 25-26, 2013 - ''Vaudeville at the Vic'' fundraiser
July 20-Aug. 4, 2013 - ''Sparky ... From Chicago,'' the second installment of the JFK Assassination Trilogy
''We needed some kind of an edge,'' Ballantyne said. ''We needed something to get the people here. What actors do we have that would be enough of a draw? I've been on the morning show enough over the years, and their banter back and forth reminded me of 'The Odd Couple.' That's where the idea came from.''
Ballantyne called Rome and, after some initial reluctance, both became enthusiastic about the idea.
''How could we not do it?'' Rome said. ''This is one of the most challenging things I've tried in my life.''
Loboy added, ''This is just so perfect, we couldn't pass this up.''
Rome had the lead in ''The Mouse That Roared'' in high school - ''back when dinosaurs roamed the earth,'' he said - and he had three lines in Ballantyne's Kennedy assassination drama ''Specter of Treason'' in the mid-'90s. Loboy also hadn't done any theater since high school.
And while the two are used to talking to each other on camera for two hours each morning, the play - which spawned a hit movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and a long-running television series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman - required both of them to remember three-acts worth of Simon's quick-witted banter.
''70 percent of it is just me and him talking,'' Rome said.
''Look at this,'' Loboy said as he flipped through page after page of dialogue marked with a yellow highlighter. ''Those are all my lines.''
In addition to their evening rehearsals at the theater, the pair have been working together at the station when ''Daybreak'' ends.
''When we're done in the morning, we'll go off into a conference room and rehearse,'' Rome said. ''I'm yelling at him, he's yelling at me, and people walking by and looking in and wondering what's going on.''
Marlene Menaldi Strollo is directing the comedy about two friends, one divorced and one separated, who drive each other nuts when they start living together. And Rome and Loboy aren't the only local television connection in the cast. Glenn Stevens and Regina Reynolds from WFMJ-TV play poker-playing cop Murray and one of the Pigeon sisters, respectively. The rest of the cast includes C. Richard Haldi, Sam Luptak Jr. Christopher Chaibi and Denise Sculli.
Both Loboy and Rome said they didn't realize how much time and effort went into these community theater productions, from the many hours the actors spend rehearsing to all of the time required to build sets, gather props and design lighting and sound.
''It consumes your life,'' Rome said.
Loboy thinks the experience and all of the time spent together will help their day job.
''We've gotten to know each other a lot better,'' he said. ''We have to work as a team on 'Daybreak,' and we've really had to come together as team for this ... It think it's made us a better team.''
But both believe this will be a one-time experience rather than the start of a new avocation.
''Stan Boney asked us the same question,'' Loboy said. ''We both said we'll never do this again.''
Rome added, ''Unless they ask me real real nice.''