Starring in Little Theatre of Alexandria's Rumors are, from bottom left up the stairs: Kirk Lambert as Glenn Cooper, Roxanne Waite as Cassie Cooper, Peter Halverson as Ernie Cusack, Janice Rivera as Cookie Cusack. On the top landing from left: Stephanie Chu Rudden as Chris Gorman, Mike Rudden as Ken Gorman, Jayne L. Victor as Claire Ganz and Mike Donahue as Lenny Ganz/photo by Matthew Randall
With Neil Simon (1927-2018) driving the content and four dressed-up New York couples ready to party-hearty, what do you expect?
The laughs begin almost immediately in Rumors when real-life husband and wife Mike Rudden and Stephanie Chu Rudden as the Gormans start the action.
Ken Gorman has discovered a problem.
Help! There's a crime underway!
It takes only moments for three more couples to arrive at Charlie and Myra's to celebrate the couple's 10th wedding anniversary, but where are Charlie and Myra?
And (more importantly), where is the food? Thank goodness, the liquor is available.
Rumors run rampant.
It's a laugh, a conflict, and expletive-a-minute.
Almost stealing the show is Mike Donahue as Lenny Ganz who delivers a strong commanding performance, but please, the "adult" words! Skimming the script, I don't find them. Are they supposed to make the production more timely? Ouch! My ears are aching. I cannot imagine any party where this offensive language is heard so often.
But, officer! My brand-new BMW with only 12 miles has been wrecked!
As supporting spouse, Mr. Donahue's real-life and stage wife, Jayne L. Victor, nicely augments her husband's role.
Peter Halverson is Ernie Cusack, the realistic and dazed husband of "Cookie" (Janice Rivera), a charming, spacy actor who is laugh-a-minute every time she utters a line, reminiscent of SNL's "girl at a party."
Hairdresser Rebecca Harris has designed a pyramid wig for the head of "Cassie" (Roxanne Waite) who enters the party performing a balancing act worthy of an Olympic contest.
A metamorphosis in the bathroom crystalizes her personality as a slithering woman who needs the comfort of anyone but her husband (Kirk Lambert).
Whatever shall we do?
No food, no celebrants, but a crime is underway and here come the cops, with Joe Dzikiewics as Officer Welch leading an investigation, usurped by the wild exaggerations and animated gestures of his silent partner, Eileen Copas as Officer Pudney.
Seated are Peter Halverson as Ernie Cusack and Janice Rivera as Cookie Cusack; standing from left are Joe Dzikiewicz as Officer Welch, Mike Rudden as Ken Gorman, and Eileen Copas as Officer Pudney in Little Theatre of Alexandria's Rumors/photo by Matthew Randall
Everyone is formally attired (applause to designer Judy Whelihan), able to overlook red spots on white shirts. (I don't know why I find theater more enjoyable when characters are dressed for the ball, and ball they have in Rumors.)
Sound engineer Alan Wray has his hands full, ringing the too-loud doorbell. And the phone. (That phone conflicts with the timing of the show if expletives were added to make it more "contemporary.")
Charles Dragonette has created an exquisite set for the prancing and dancing of the couples in this circus. Scene changes, not necessary.
It's an enjoyable time with these quartets, enough to make you laugh out loud which is not only good for the soul but good for the heart, too.
Fun at the theatre returns! And to accommodate the new mood, the Little Theatre is selling extra seating.
Other crew members are Matthew Randall, director; Nick Friedlander and Jennifer Lyman, producers; Sarah Holt, assistant producer; Lauren Markovich and Meggie Webster, stage managers; Julie Fischer and Dan Remmers, set construction; Kirstin Apker, props; Ken and Patti Crowley, lighting; Sam Jensen, master electrician; Larissa Norris, makeup; Margaret Snow, wardrobes; Mona Wargo, set painting; and Russell M. Wyland, rigging.
What: Rumors by Neil SimonWhen: Now through August 14, 2021, Wednesday through Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. Some shows, nearing sellouts.
Where: Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Tickets: $21, weekdays; $24, weekends.
Duration: About 2 hours with one intermission.
Public transportation: Check the Metro and Dash bus websites.
Parking: On the streets and in many garages nearby with free parking during performances at Capital One Bank at Wilkes and Washington streets.
For more information: Box Office: 703-683-0496; Business: 703-683-5778.