Walpole Footlighters second show of their 87th season is the Neil Simon farce "Rumors". The show takes place in May, 1990 in Charley and Myra Brock's home in Sneden's Landing, New York on their tenth wedding anniversary. Several affluent couples gather in the posh suburban residence for a dinner party. When they arrive, they discover there are no servants, the hostess is missing, and the host, the deputy mayor of New York City, has shot himself through the earlobe. Comic complications arise when, given everyone's upper class status, they decide they need to do everything possible to conceal the evening's events from the local police and the media. Four couples are about to experience a severe attack of farce. Charley's lawyer, Ken and his wife, Chris must get "the story" straight before the other guests arrive. As the confusions and miscommunications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcical hilarity. Merry mayhem ensues with the craziness of each couple, the entrance of two cops, all leading to a surprise ending. Director Frank Moffet picks the 10 best people for each of the roles, earning them all many laugh out loud moments and thunderous applause at the close of the show.
Frank keeps the pacing of this farce at the breakneck speed it needs. He also does a great job blocking his cast on the two story townhouse set. The gorgeous set is designed by Frank and is so realistic you could live in it. The costumes, lighting and production manager are excellently executed by Kate Smith, Tony Liapis and Marianne Phinney. She keeps things running smoothly during the performance. The first couple at the party Ken and Chris Gorman played by Frederick Fairbanks and Colleen Lavery. They set the pace for the madcap farce from their very first lines. Frederick is Chris' frantic husband Ken who is a lawyer. He tries to straighten things out when the two cops show up in the second act while in the first act, he constantly runs up and down the stairs. Ken becomes deaf and Frederick has many funny one liners about it, earning many laughs. Colleen plays the nervous lawyer Chris who just gave up smoking. She brings out the humorous aspects of this jittery woman especially when she repeats one of the wacky plans at rapid fire speed. They both do a wonderful job with these roles.
The second couple, Lenny and Claire Ganz are played by David Giagrando and Cynthia Small. They just had a car crash and Lenny has whiplash and Claire has a cut lip. David and Cynthia have many funny lines in the show including the rumors they have heard at the club from Carol Newman and Harold Green. They have great chemistry together in all their scenes and with the other couples. David is excellent throughout the show but his two page monologue is the highpoint of the show. He acts out what he thinks happened while pretending to be Charley Brock. David speaks fake Spanish when he imitates two of the servants as well as making up a convoluted story about drinking champagne with "Myra", making love with her and accidentally shooting himself in the earlobe. Cynthia handles her one liners splendidly all night long and her reactions to David's story are priceless, too. I last reviewed David in "Fiddler on the Roof as Tevye last June as well as Watchdog in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" a couple of years ago. The third couple, Ernie and Cookie are played by James Merlin and Barbara Schapiro, who do a great job in their wacky roles. Ernie is a shrink and Cookie has a cooking show on TV. She appears in this hideous 60 year old Russian dress, has a bad back and crawls around the floor while Ernie burns his hands on a hot platter and dances up a storm with Cookie in the La Bamba dance segment. She has a hilarious scene where she makes the others crawl around the floor looking for her earrings. I last reviewed Barbara as Lucille in "The Cemetery Club" for Footlighters a couple of years ago. The last couple, Glenn and Cassie are played by Michael Dornisch and Jes Maxfield who I last reviewed in "Pack of Lies" for Footlighters last year. They provide high energy as the constantly bickering couple. Michael plays the worried politician who might be having an affair with the infamous Carol Newman while Jes plays his new age wife who loves to rub crystals and likes to flirt with the other women's husband. They are wonderful as this crazed couple. The last two performers in "Rumors" are Steve Small and Gina Donaher who play the two cops. Steve commands the stage as the Officer Welch, the irate policeman who is looking for answers from the uncooperatvie guests. Gina's Officer Pudney gets her laughs when she is contacted by the station via her walkie talkie. So for a sidesplitting Neil Simon farce, be sure to catch Rumors.