A man has been shot, his wife is missing and his friends can’t make sense of what’s happened.
That’s the story students of Chandler-Gilbert Community College will tell this month when they stage “Rumors” on Oct. 10.
Written by Neil Simon in 1988, the comedy is a classic farce full of shenanigans and hijinks. Characters fight, flirt and mistake each other as they attempt to unravel a strange mystery.
Director Shalynn Reynolds said she wanted to find a script that could expose her young cast to the elements of a fast-paced farce.
“I wanted to do something that would be fun – that would be a challenge for them,” she said.
Several of the college’s veteran theatre students graduated last semester, so Reynolds needed to find a show with a relatively small cast of 10 actors to take on characters that include cheating politicians, eccentric socialites and clueless psychiatrists.
“I’m super lucky,” Reynolds added. “I got a really great group of actors. I’ve been really spoiled.”
“Rumors” was a hit when it opened on Broadway in 1988 and ran for more than 500 performances. It won awards and was Simon’s first foray into the topsy-turvy structure of theatrical farces.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright told the New York Times he wrote the romp to cheer himself up during a dark period of his life.
The show’s plot revolves around a dinner party that goes array after its host is found unconscious with a gunshot wound. As the guests start to arrive, they all poke and pry to find out what’s happened to their friend.
“During the course of discovering it, all these other crazy things are happening,” Reynolds added.
The madness continues escalating until the party guests find themselves being interrogated about what they know regarding their indisposed friend.
“That’s where the comedy comes in,” Reynolds said, “trying to figure out what has actually happened to the host of the party.”
Early on in the rehearsal process, Reynolds had her cast complete exercises to get them comfortable around each other and acclimated to the script’s quick dialogue.
The relationships between the characters are quite close and intimate, the director said, so she wanted the actors to be able to easily play off each other’s rhythm.
Reynolds has been directing shows at the college for the last 10 years and was recently appointed as director of Chandler-Gilbert’s theatre program.
Students have several performance opportunities throughout the school year, Reynolds added, which range from musicals to comedy shows.
The production’s cast includes Adam Moreno, Liberty Milo, James Milton, Keiko Deaver, Jaden Martelli, and Kylan Tangermann.
Four performances will be held on Oct. 10, 11 and 12 at the Chandler-Gilbert campus on Pecos Road. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. each night and Oct. 12 will also have a matinee at 2 p.m.