Laughs Are A Fact at ECT's 'Rumors' PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:00

Elkhart Civic Theatre is offering two hours (plus intermission) of solid laughs in its current production of “Rumors,” one of the good ones from the extensive library of comedy master Neil Simon, which opened Friday in the Bristol Opera House.

Like his classic hit “The Odd Couple,” “Rumors” takes a rather unusual situation, inhabits it with characters that can be very familiar, peppers it with hilarious one-liners, shakes it all together and lets the hilarity escalate to frequently side-splitting proportions.

Rumors at Elkhart Civic TheatreThe increasingly frantic proceedings take place in the home of Charles and Myra Brock in Sneden’s Landing, N.Y. He is the Deputy Mayor of New York and they are giving a party to celebrate their 10th anniversary. At the opening curtain, first arrivals Chris and Ken Gorman (Julie Castello and Rick Nymeyer) are obviously in panic mode. The reason? Charlie is upstairs in the bedroom with a bullet hole in his earlobe, Myra is nowhere to be found and the cook and butler have left with the dinner uncooked in the kitchen

Because of his political position, the Gormans decide to keep what they believe is a failed suicide attempt to themselves and, as the three other couples arrive, begin a chain of outrageous tales to explain the absence of their hosts.

Next on the scene are Claire and Lenny Ganz (Tina LaPorte and Douglas J. Lunn)., who already are upset by the hit-and-run driver who crashed into their brand new BMW, leaving Lenny with severe whiplash and the car in much less than new condition.

They are followed by Cookie and Ernie Cusack (Georgi Shide and Bob Franklin). He is Charlie’s analyst and she, the hostess of a TV cooking show afflicted with a bad back that goes out on a moment’s notice.

Completing the guest list are Cassie and Glenn Cooper (Phyllis Oliver and Carl Wiesinger), a duo already in full bicker mode. He is running for the state senate, She feels neglected and is certain he is having an affair.

As each duo enters, those already on hand create another elaborate storyline to cover the truth, even though no one knows exactly what that truth is. Eventually, however, all are aware of the situation and stumble frantically to keep it from the local police (Dave Kempher and Joy Freude) who arrive on the scene for one reason and stay for another.

Each of the couples has his/her center stage time and deserve the laughter that follows their interactions. Lunn and LaPorte could take their act on the road, so well do they play off each other and the rest of the group. Delivery is everything in Simon, and they are masters. Guarantee no one will open a plastic bag of pretzels again without recalling Lunn’s frustrating struggles which prove to be a masterful setup.

Castello hilariously mirrors the desperation of all former smokers who yearn for just one puff in a stressful situation, Nymeyer’s “aftershock” is very well-played as is Shide’s slow cross to the kitchen and Franklin’s “lobster claws” welcome to the final duo. Oliver is properly hysterical at the unfortunate “departure” of her calming quartz crystal and Wiesinger’s reaction to the entrance of the law could be right off TMZ. Kempher’s Officer Welch is just gullible enough and Freude proves that silence is indeed golden.

The frantic evening is beautifully paced by director Penny Meyers and assistant director Annette Kaczanowski. The set, designed by John Shoup, is exactly right, from stairway to bay window to bar, with attention to detail impressive as always.

As the laughs keep mounting and the cover-ups become more and more elaborately involved, one wonders how the performers keep everything straight, then stops wondering and just sits back and enjoys.

“RUMORS” plays at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Bristol Opera House on S.R. 120. For reservations, call 848-4116 between 1 and 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 April 2011 22:54

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