Neil Simon’s hilarious screwball comedy Rumors first hit the boards in 1988. That it is as funny today as it was then is demonstrated by a company of young people who carry on the fine tradition of One Song Productions. Back in 2002, a couple of high school students (Katie Yow and Daniel Elam) founded One Song, a theater troupe in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area, operating with no adult supervision or assistance. We became aware of them several years ago and have been avid followers ever since.
When the curtain rises, four couples get together for the 10th wedding anniversary celebration of their hosts, who happen to be the Deputy Mayor of New York City and his wife. And then the fun begins. The fun is zaniness to the full; and our young actors are right on top of every line, nuance, and preposterous situation. It is nonstop laughter, which never misses a beat.
The first couple to arrive, Ken and Chris Gorman (played by Richard Yuan and Sophie Coles), set the mood, establishing that the host and hostess are missing, as well as the household staff. Their conversation and demeanor tell us right up front that we’re in a comedy.
Lenny and Claire Ganz, played by Henry Schneider and Audrey Royer, appear to be a bit more rational, handling an extremely touchy situation; but it is still beyond their comprehension. Schneider takes a monologue near the end of the play that is an exquisite performance, which left us in awe.
Ernie Cusak, a psychologist at Bellevue, portrayed by Jake Wiener, and his wife Cookie (yeah, kookie Cookie!), done by Emma Roussin, add to the quirky situation and enhance the hilarity.
Rounding out the high-class hijinks, Glenn Cooper, a rising politician and his crazily suspicious wife, played by Imani Chabikuli and Matilda Chen, fill out the guest list.
What’s a comedy without the titillating interruption of the police? Sure enough, two cops enter the picture, Officer Pudney (Amelia Brinson) and Officer Welch (Fiona Galinsky), who have some pretty uncomfortable questions to ask. A very modern twist is added in the role of Pudney.
Isabel “Issy” Mahon and Joe Davis have done flawless direction of this fine cast. The sense of ensemble, the snappy line delivery, the careful and deliberate blocking, and excellent characterization give this show a feeling of polish and commitment.
Technical directors Juan Alexis, Malagon Castanon, and Kevin White produce sound, lights, and set that are ideal for this upper-class home, as are the costumes by Matilda Chen.
We are unabashedly delighted to be followers of this unusual theater production company, and expect to continue being their fans. These folks command respect for their performances; and this show should be seen by all lovers of live theater, including adults.
One Song Productions is performing this excellent entertainment at The ArtsCenter of Carrboro at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17th and 18th, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19th. Go see it, and give yourself a treat. To obtain more information and buy tickets, click here and here.
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.