Ru­mours de­serves big­ger au­di­ences

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - JACK EVANS FOR THE INTELLIGENCER

Com­edy in the Pin­na­cle Play­house is nor­mally an easy sell.

But the cur­rent of­fer­ing by the Belleville Theatre Guild, “Ru­mours,” has been suf­fer­ing for lack of au­di­ences. At­ten­dance at early per­for­mances was light, de­spite the fact this is an­other clas­sic gem from the pen of award- win­ning play­wright Neil Si­mon, whose many hit comedic plays have been en­ter­tain­ing au­di­ences all over the world for gen­er­a­tions.

Small au­di­ences must be just the busy­ness of the sea­son as the en­ter­tain­ment value of this clas­sic farce will soon be spread around by word of mouth. From start to fin­ish there is gig­gling to out­right roar­ing laugh­ter at the fran­tic an­tics of this tal­ented cast, fea­tur­ing many sea­soned ac­tors.

The set is stun­ning, a lovely mul­ti­level con­struc­tion with stairs and lots of doors to al­low for the many ins and outs typ­i­cal in a farce show. Di­rec­tor Maija Thomp­son’s notes re­veals the plot is about a tenth an­niver­sary party gone wrong and ex­pressed the hope that “none of your hol­i­day par­ties go astray like this one.”

Margaret Mur­ray, as Chris Gor­man and her hus­band, Ken, played by vet­eran Scott Rood­voets, en­ter the lav- ish home of the deputy mayor of New York City as first guests to the an­niver­sary party. They dis­cover their host, Char­lie, bleed­ing all over his bed from a gun­shot wound to his head, the cook and house ser­vants, all staff, are gone and no food is pre­pared. Con­clud­ing that the wound is an at­tempt at sui­cide, Ken frets about pro­tect­ing his best friend and client’s rep­u­ta­tion by cover­ing the in­ci­dent up, but then other guests start ar­riv­ing. They all want to know the same thing: where is Char­lie and his wife, and the staff?

Dave Hen­der­son and Heather A, Barker, as Lenny and Claire Ganz, ( Lenny is Char­lie’s ac­coun­tant,) are hun­gry and want food or snacks and Ken Gor­man lies that their hosts are still get­ting changed in their bed­room. The Ganz’s day started out when Lenny’s brand new Mercedes Benz gets vi­o­lently T- boned in an ac­ci­dent on the way.

Char­lie’s psy­chother­a­pist, Ernie Cu­sack ( played by Gerry Fraiberg) and his wife, Cookie, ( played by Barb Gre­nier) a TV chef host, then ar­rive. Ernie quickly senses the ner­vous ten­sions and in­sists some­thing is wrong. Mean­while Cookie, suf­fer­ing from back spasms, shrieks and writhes in pain from time to time, but of­fers to pre­pare a meal. Chris Gor­man and Clair Ganz, to over­come their con­fu­sion and ten­sion, be­come drink­ing bud­dies and soak them­selves into obliv­ion. Through­out, Ken and Lenny are run­ning up and down the stairs and in and out of bed­rooms, check­ing on Char­lie and his wife and try­ing to in­vent sto­ries to cover it all up.

More ar­rivals, Glenn and Cassie Cooper, played by stal­warts Bill Petch and an al­lur­ing Wendy Roy, deeply in­volved in a jeal­ous feud which threat­ens Glenn’s ef­forts at a po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. When po­lice of­fi­cers, played by Chris­tine Leg­gat and Chris Bauer, fi­nally ar­rive the con­fu­sion and sto­ries they hear lead to dis­be­lief and more problems for the har­ried guests.

This play is full of wild, earthy di­a­logue, per­haps not fit for chil­dren, plenty of ac­tion and in­ter­ac­tion plus spec­tac­u­lar cos­tumes and lush, jazzy back­ground mu­sic. The guild in­vites area res­i­dents to start their hol­i­day sea­son off with some hearty laugh­ter and they are de­liv­er­ing the goods.” Ru­mours” runs through Dec. 15. For tick­ets or in­for­ma­tion, call the box of­fice: ( 613) 967- 1442.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO BY GREG PINCHIN

Barb Gre­nier, as Cookie Cu­sack, leans over the couch to talk to Heather A. Barker ( as Claire Ganz) and Margaret Mur­ray ( as Chris Gor­man), while Bill Petch ( Glenn Cooper) is on the tele­phone. The Belleville Theatre Guild’s pro­duc­tion of Ru­mours runs un­til Dec. 15.

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