Monday, September 27, 2010

Theatrical Review: Rumors

Theatrical Review: Rumors
Written by: Neil Simon
Directed by: Sue Butler
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Center Stage Players‘ production of “Rumors” by Neil Simon. The original production opened at The Broadhurst Theatre in 1988 for a year before moving to The Ethel Barrymore Theatre for which it ran for over 500 performances. It won and was nominated for several prestigious awards and became a favorite among those who are great fans of the comedic literary talents of Neil Simon.

The work of Playwright Neil Simon is well know for filling the theatres in which they’re performed with a great deal of laughter. They have a wonderful way of presenting familiar situations upon the stage so we can see how humorous they really are. This encourages us to forgo much of worry and despair many of us embrace as we muddle through out life’s experiences and to realize how silly such an approach really is.

In his play “Rumors,” the desire to keep secrets in order to keep up appearances and avoid large problems are explored. It is also one of those interesting theatrical pieces in which the main characters of the play never appear in it. I couldn’t help but to be reminded of the 1949 film “The Third Man” in which the Orson Well’s Character “Harry Lime” doesn’t appear until about two thirds into the film but everything is known about him when he does through the other characters’ conversations. There is much to be known about the characters Charley and Myra Brock although most of what is revealed is through innuendo and rumors.

The play is about the friends of Charley and Myra Brock meeting at their home to celebrate their 10th Anniversary. The first couple, Ken and Chris Gorman (as portrayed by Rob Ramos and Katherine Neville who also serves on The Center Stage Players’ Treasurer), arrives to find the host Charley (who is the deputy mayor) had shot himself through the earlobe and Myra along with the house staff are missing. Ken and Chris do their best to cover everything up even as the other expected house guest begin to arrive. They are Claire and Lenny Ganz as portrayed by Sara Ferguson and Patrick Turner who serves as a member of The Center Stage Players’ Board of Directors, Glen and Cassie Cooper as portrayed by David Schappert and Juliet Dunham and Ernie and Cookie Cusack as portrayed by Jack Butler who designed the sets and Pat Van Varick who serves as a member of The Center Stage Players’ Board of Directors. The role of Cookie Cusack is also played by Paulette Pearson on alternate presentations and did not perform during the one I saw. A great deal of mayhem transpires as the cover up is unraveled and those who discover it soon become its co conspirators. As with all such situations, it’s even funnier when the cops (as portrayed by Daniel Helm and Jessica O’ Brien) show up.

The Center Stage Players’ production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” was very well done as it’s brisk pacing and exceptional acting enhanced its comedic effect without overwhelming the style of the playwright. This is often a difficult balance to obtain and maintain, but this production does so with great finesse. The acting was a joy to experience as one can easily see each actor’s dedication and enjoyment of their craft. In other words, it was a fun time at the theatre.

The Shawnee Playhouse presentation of The Center Stage Players’ production of “Rumors” by Neil Simon was Directed by Sue Butler who also serves as The Center Stage Players’ President and designed the set. The production was Stage Managed by Lillian Ramirez-Gonzalez who also serves as The Center Stage Players’ Secretary. The Lighting Design was done by Arthur Ritter while the Sound and Light Technicians were Eric Dwyer and Dan Eash who serves as a member of The Center Stage Players‘ Board of Directors. Other members of The Center Stage Players include Mary Stewart Erm who serves as Vice President.

The Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse is Midge McClosky while the producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. The Sales Manager is Mary Horn as Becky Haskell serves in Marketing. Members of the Box Office Staff are Barbara Ross and Christina McManus. The Playhouse’s costumer is Missy Benefield. The Shawnee Playhouse publicity is handled by Amy Cramer while David Schrage is its Webmaster.

This presentation of The Center Stage Players’ production of “Rumors” by Neil Simon will conclude its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until October 24th. I would recommend seeing this production as it’s a wonderful opportunity to see actors who love the theatre performing a comedy that truly inspires its audience to laugh. It also allows the audience to explore how the rumors of their lives in which they try to keep hidden from others would look in the bright light of humor.

The next Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presentations will include The Frightening Film Festival featuring 13 Horror Films running October 29th - 31st, “Le Cirque Des Mort” on Saturday October 30th featuring a gothic circus with a musical performance by “This Way to the Egress,” The film “House of White Spiders” on Friday November 5th, “Mark Mysterrio‘s Tales of Magic and Mystery for Kids“ running November 5th - December 28th, “From Lincoln Center to Broadway” running November 6th and 7th, “Cooking in Yesterday’s Grease” running November 13th and 14th, “It’s A Wonderful Life” running November 19th - December 19th, “A Winnie the Pooh Christmas carol” running November 19th - December 18th, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” running December 6th - 26th, The “Messiah” Free Sing In Concert on Tuesday December 21st, and “Kids’ Kabaret Rocks” running December 28th and 29th. Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their Website at for more information and to reserve your ticket. Please feel free to Explore The Center Stage Players’ Website at to learn more information about them.

Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of selected productions of The Shawnee Playhouse.

No Photograph from the production was available.

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