Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The newly reopened, City Nights Dinner Theatre's opening production is the Neil Simon farce, "Rumors". Although the show starts off slowly and needs louder projection at times, this is a dinner theatre production the audience can laugh out loud at and let the tensions of their real lives fade away. The show takes palce in Charley and Myra Brock's home in NY on their tenth anniversary. The 8 guests have arrived and someone has been shot. Merry mayhem ensues with the craziness of each couple, the entrance of two cops and leads to a surpise ending.
New owner, Doug Macaskill brings many changes including a newly painted theatre with a bistro like setting. He also directs his ten performers in this farce while building the two story townhouse set. He is helped out by his artistic director, Erica Feick, his stage manager, Joan Pointon. her assistant, Robert Barossi and lighting and sound designer, Lynn MacGregor. The excellent food is prepared by expert Chef Brian Condron. The result of their hard work is seen in this presentation and in many more to come. The delicious dinner menu for "Rumors" consists of a garden salad, fresh rolls, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Beef Bourguignonne, Boulangere Potatoes, macaroni with vegetables and assorted pastries for dessert. Both the chicken and beef are so tender, they just melt in your mouth. Chef Brian will be making different delectable foods for future shows so you will be enjoying varied taste treats each time.
The first couple at the party is Chris and Ken Gorman played by Stacie Connors and Brian Ellsworth. They are panic stricken because Charly has been shot and they don't know what to do. Stacie plays the nervous, Chris. She just gave up smoking and becomes drunk to calm her nerves. Brian is her lawyer, husband Ken, who tries to straightenthings out when the cops show up. He also runs up and down the stairs constantly and has many funny lines when he becomes deaf later in the show. They both handle the frantic behavior of their characters well.
The second couple is Claire and Lenny Ganz played by Fatima Rodrigues and Michael S. Templeton. They just had a car crash. Lenny has whiplash and Claire has a cut lip. Fatima's and Michael's funniest dialogue is about the rumors they hear from Carol Newman and Harold Green, members of their country club about Charly and Myra. Michael also delivers a two page monologue with high energy using Fatima in his story and runs around the stage speaking fake Spanish.
The biggest scene stealer in the show is Karen Gail Kessler as Cookie. From her first entrance in a 60 year old Russian dress to her bad back moanings and crawling on the floor and to the very close of the show, her portrayal of this daffy woman is hilarious. Karen uses a high pitched sounding voice to play this zany cooking show host and makes all her lines count. Her counterpart is Norm Hassinger who makes Ernie, Johns Hopkins educated psychiatrist very funny, too. His burnt hands scene and the dancing segment with Karen, doing the bump to "La Bamba" are two standout moments for this couple.
The fourth couple, Glenn and Cassie played by Tommy Trenn and Paula Faber, provide high energy in their scenes. Tommy and Paula's constant bickering couple endears them to the audience bringing about many laughs. He plays the worried politician perfectly while she plays a new age wife, complete with crystals and a flirty behavior toward the other husbands, beautifully. Rounding out the cast are Jim Viner and Tania Montenegro as Officers Welsh and Pudney. They are only in the second act but the questioning of the suspects and their scenes with the others is handled very well. So for a fun filled evening complete with a yummy dinner and the Neil Simon farce that follows, be sure to head to City Nights Dinner Theatre.