NTC opens its 2017-18 Season with Neil Simon’s Early, Witty and Lighthearted Comedy “Rumors”
Rumors premiered at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego in September 1988, then opened on Broadway in November 1988 at the Broadhurst Theater and moved to the Ethel Barrymore Theater where it closed after 535 performances and 8 previews.
For this production, as I went to take my usual seat in the front row, I was immediately met by a stark white set. Then, as the play unfolded, the masterfully-designed set by Michael Walraven opened onto a well-appointed living room.
Tightly directed by Trevor Scott Floyd and Elliott Hanson Assistant Director, the play begins with shocking events at an anniversary party for the Deputy Mayor of New York. First guests at the party are a lawyer, Ken Gorman (Montgomery Paulsen) and his wife Chris (Candace Brown), and they recognize something is horribly wrong. They discover that the Deputy Mayor has been shot in the head! Since they don’t know what happened, Ken and Chris have to figure out what to say to the doctor and the police.
Chris wants to call the doctor, but Ken tells her it’s not a life-threatening wound – it’s only a shot through the earlobe. With that, the doorbell rings and other friends arrive – Lenny (Timothy Geracoulis) and Claire (Haley Bertelsen). They have their own drama – as in a car accident – also no life-threatening wounds, however. Now the rumors begin and the effort to keep rumors from expanding out to the public! Claire and Lenny say they heard that either the Deputy Mayor or his wife was having an affair, so maybe that’s why the Deputy Mayor shot himself. In further discussing the situation with Ken, Lenny wants to call the police but lawyer Ken says no.
Another couple arrives – Ernie Kusak (Jim McFadden), a psychiatrist, and Cookie (Marilyn Hughes), his eccentric wife. Not wanting to spread rumors, the other guests initiate general party conversation – with no rumors and nothing divulged about the unfolding drama around the Deputy Mayor.
As the Kusaks prepare dinner, the final guests arrive – Glen Cooper (Matt Farrell), a politician, and his wife, Cassie (Hande Gokbas). The party conversation is lively – but still no mention about the shooting of the Deputy Mayor.
However, once dinner is served, the party totally disintegrates into conflict and confusion. As dinner ends everyone knows everything.
Then, police officers arrive – Officer Welch (Shari Clover) and Officer Putney (Sandi Weldon). Officer Welch asks several probing questions (unrelated to the drama in the house but, instead, related to the car accident) and gets suspicious when confusion ensues about the situation (unrelated to the car accident), and he notices the absence of the Deputy Mayor. The collective storyline of the guests unravels. The officer demands to see the Deputy Mayor but getting nowhere, finally allows the excuses given by the guests to stand, and the officers leave.
Sighs of relief from the guests are short-lived as yet another drama seems to be developing in the basement! Eventually, the party develops into a night to remember without spreading any rumors.
I was delighted to see Candace Brown play Chris and have the opportunity to perform a more glamorous role than her previous old women character parts. And Marilyn Hughes was funny and a delight to watch as Cookie.
Hande Gokbas who plays Cassie Cooper was very strong. Of all the men, at the show I attended, the outstanding performance was by Timothy Geracoulis who plays Lenny. That said I’d like to put in a good word for Montgomery Paulsen, who did amazing work as Ken. The Police Officers were quite believable.
Barbara Bandy’s Costume Designs were very appropriate. Simon Eves always does a great job with Sound Design, and the Lighting Design by Danny Osbum was excellent.
As always, the publicity was excellent by Publicist Gary Carr.
Flora Lynn Isaacson
Photography by Marina Nims
Rumors began its run September 7 and runs through September 24, 2017. Regular performances of Company are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 p.m. For tickets to Rumors order online at www.NovatoTheaterCompany.org (print out your ticket from the confirmation email). If you’re unable to print out your ticket, your name will be on a list at the Box Office on your scheduled date at your scheduled time. The Box Office opens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Coming up next at NTC will be the musical Chicago, from October 19 through November 12, 2017, and directed by Marilyn Izdebski, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The book was written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse.