Guest Column: Be prepared to laugh with ACT’s “Rumors”

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stage Right by Chris Chalmers

If the final dress rehearsal of Albert Lea Community Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s play “Rumors” is any indication of what to expect in this 53rd year of performances, audiences are in for a special season.

“Rumors” takes place in a 1970s townhome of New York City’s deputy mayor. The evening is set around a 10th anniversary dinner party for Charlie, deputy mayor, and Myra Brock.  Appearances are more important than facts to these successful and professional couples. The twists and turns this story takes get more involved and funnier with each arriving guest. Director Rory Mattson has assembled a cast that takes this Simon farce and delivers an evening to remember. Be prepared to laugh.

Chris Chalmers

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Each cast member adds a special flare to this tale gone awry. The couples in “Rumors” played by Jon Cochran, Kristi White, Mark Place, Raquel Hellman, Jay Paul, Michelle Supalla, Steve Schwartz and Kristan Dye all add key elements to the story. Each actor has multiple moments in the show to display their talent and wit. Portraits of these relationship stereotypes                    — materialism, status, position, trust, jealousy and more are portrayed convincingly. Once Act II begins, everyone is quite involved with trying to keep the ever-changing story straight, and that is when the police arrive, played by Brian Mattson and Marcy Tatro. Mattson and Tatro try to regain control of this dinner party gone wild but are only successful for a moment.

The physical acting and presence on stage of this group of experienced actors is impressive. As the play went on, one could feel the cast working ever more closely together to convey the chaos of this evening. Rory Mattson’s experience shows through and he directs this cacophony to a wonderful and surprising conclusion.

The set, designed and constructed by Steve Kinney and Mark Bartelson, recreates a 1970s New York living room and allows for the many ins and outs of characters and tales. The stairs are well worn by the end of the night. The lighting is simple and highlights the action and foretells of arriving people to this party. Costuming for the formal dinner party is sharp and helps the audience better understand the characters and the importance of appearance in their lives.

ACT has been building community in our area for 53 years. The actors, production staffs and audiences over the years should be proud of the legacy established with this community theater. All involved with this production of  “Rumors” can be proud of this effort, too. I highly recommend “Rumors” for adults willing to suspend disbelief and those willing to accept the challenge of putting the pieces of this puzzle together. Subject matter and a few word choices are best for adult audiences. Go ahead and laugh. Laughter is more important than ever.

“Rumors” plays at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center October 19-22 and 25-28.

Chris Chalmers is the Community Education director for Albert Lea Area Schools.