Rockville Little Theatre’s latest production, Neil Simon’s Rumors, is a delightful romp through 1980s Manhattan and all its glitz, glamour… and gossip.
Several society couples are due at Charlie and Myra Brock’s house to celebrate the couple’s tenth wedding anniversary. When Chris and Ken arrive early, they find the hostess and staff nowhere to be seen and the host bleeding in his bedroom with a gunshot wound to the earlobe. Comedy ensues when Chris and Ken decide to cover for the injured man until they can determine if the shooting was an accident or self-inflicted. As additional couples arrive each guest has their own reason for covering up the crime, and these attempts at cover-up grow into layers of delightful comedy.
The action takes place in the interior of the Brocks’ home. WATCH Award winner Bill Brown’s set features a lovely large blue living room that any ’80s yuppie would approve of. Guests lounge on a white leather sofa that occupies center stage and the action involves lots of back and forth up a set of stairs and through the doors to the rest of the house (scenic artistry and decor by Katherine Rogers).
Rumors is a show that places a lot of demands on actors, and the entire cast of this production rose to those demands. The ensemble of ten turned out uniformly enthusiastic performances, working together as a cohesive unit to create comedy. Standout performances include Joseph Coracle as Ken Gorman. Coracle excelled in his use of physical humor, employing laugh-inducing gestures and facial expressions as he peeked out from behind doors and ran up and downstairs while checking on the gunshot victim. At one point in the show, his character is temporarily deaf. This allowed for hilarious exchanges like “I hear you have a cold.” “You think I look old?”
Sara Joy Lebowitz gives a dry, droll performance as Claire Ganz, delivering line after line of deadpan comedy with a straight face. Lebowitz and Melissa Blum (playing Chris Gorman) were particularly funny in a scene in which they emerge from a bathroom with an empty bottle of vodka. David Gannon, in his theatrical debut, took on the large role of Lenny Ganz, a performance that culminated in a magnificent comedic monologue near the end of the show that the audience responded to with spontaneous applause. Lou Zammichieli entertained as the angry cop who eventually shows up to put an end to these shenanigans.
Laura W. Andruski’s direction features excellent blocking. Although the action all takes place in one room, the easy movement of the actors throughout the space keeps the show feeling lively and the audience engaged.
The show’s costumes (Avery Morstan) evoke ’80s dinner-party glamour, while the sound and lighting design cleverly portray cars approaching the house on a gravel driveway (sound design by Chris Penick, lighting design by Stephen Deming).
The production could benefit from quicker pacing. Several jokes lacked punch when lines were delivered too slowly to achieve the ideal snappy back and forth between characters. Tightening up the delivery could achieve greater comedic repartee.
Rumors is not a show that sets out to explain the world’s problems. It’s fun for the sake of fun, silly for the sake of silliness, and after the year we all just went through, I say bring on the comedy. Rockville Little Theatre’s production offers a delightful escape for anyone with a funny bone yearning for a few hours of frothy fun.
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes including one 15-minute intermission.
Rumors plays through October 3, 2021, presented by Rockville Little Theatre performing at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre – 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD. For tickets (adults, $22; seniors and students, $20) go online. Face coverings are required at all City of Rockville properties.
Joseph Coracle as Ken Gorman
Melissa Blum as Chris Gorman
David Gannon as Lenny Ganz
Sara Joy Lebowitz as Claire Ganz
Dave Savolaine as Ernie Cusak
Tracie Danforth Witte as Cookie Cusak
Jonathan Kilgore as Glenn Cooper
Michaela Cheatham as Cassie Cooper
Lou Zammichieli as Officer Ben Welch
Niranjali Amerasinghe as Officer Connie Pudney