THIS COMEDY WILL TICKLE YOUR FUNNY BONE AND THIS MADCAP MELEE WILL KEEP YOU GUESSING
THAT YOU MIGHT BE THE RUMOR
There is a rumor going around Foster City Peninsula, that audiences are enjoying the Hillbarns’ production of Neil Simon’s 1988 hit RUMORS. I had to find out for myself, and I can say that the rumors are true. The show is side splitting fun with a classic non- millennial cast of wonderful splendid players. Hillbarn Theatre, continues its “Season of Belonging” with Neil Simon’s classic , RUMORS, now on stage only through this weekend and must close March 26th. Director Hunt Burdick says “In my opinion, Neil Simon’s, Rumors, is the perfect antidote to reality! - This ensemble show is non-stop silliness clad in an upper-crust world. Its continuous intrigue and hilarity will have the audiences on the edges of their seats ”
In this slapstick farce, upper class New York couples arrive at the home of Deputy Mayor Charlie Brock and his wife Myra to attend their 10th wedding anniversary dinner party. It isn’t much of a party since there is no food, except for a bag of pretzels. But that is the least of their worries since the host, hostess, and even the servants are missing from the party. Ken Gorman, a lawyer played wonderfully by the capable Craig C. Lewis, first discovers that Charlie has shot himself with a gun through the earlobe in a failed suicide attempt. For fear of how the media and police would react, Ken and his lawyer wife, Chris Gorman, played by the beautiful and exuberant Bobbi J Fagone, and eventually the other couples, do everything possible to conceal the evening’s events. Comedy arises when one lie-filled rumor leads to another in this outrageous game of telephone where small mixups wind up making some great shtick.
The icon Broadway writer Simon has given the four wives names that begin with C – Chris, Claire, Cookie, and Cassie. Three of the four husbands are given rhyming names – Ken, Len, and Glenn. I am not sure what the subtext of the names mean, but it’s still fun to work it into the wacky story. The main character, Charlie Brock, never appears onstage. So it's hard to care about him and his political career.
In less capable hands, Neil Simon’s Rumors could be a bore, but director Burdick gets the most laughs out of the script and his impressive actors. Every comedic moment is carefully choreographed by Burdick and executed with eye catching precision by the terrific comic performers all with great Bay Area stage experience. Burdick did not cast a single millennial; to his credit this senior cast is full proof fun.
The most well developed character is Cassie Cooper played by the enthusiastic Nicole Martin. This silver cougar seductive woman worships her jewelry more than her older husband, Glenn Cooper, played with strength by Bill Davidovich, who is thinking about running for State Senate. When this pair isn’t fighting like cats and dogs, they are hiding the fact that the host shot himself. The other characters we meet are also entertaining. With his dapper style and classy black tie, Ernie Cusack played by the likable Dan Demers, a psychiatrist, is at first mistaken for the butler. His wacky wife, Cookie Cusack, played to comic perfection by the grand Kelly Hudson is a TV cook show hostess with back problems that bring the slapstick timing to total laughs.
The two most seasoned actors James Amato and Linda Piccone as Lenny Ganz and his wife Claire Ganz both play off of each other very well. I’m not sure Amato realizes how funny he is on stage. His show stopping monologue is so energetic and funny that it inspired the sold out audience to cheer. Piccone is quite successful and believable in her character as well, playing her role with comic flair. As the story and confusion heats Officer Welch joins the chaos played by the spunky head strong Paul G Smith and Officer Pudney, his buddy cop, played by the humorous David Street who come in during the height of the deception and sit com and really get the story characters in a tizzy as they hide from the cops.
The craft team for this 90 minutes of insanity includes the very skillful and creative set design by Kuo-Hao Lo a wonderful detailed upper class living room featuring the craft of set scenic artist Tina Patrick and carpenter Burke Gardner. Lo’s set includes two levels with plenty of doors for the actors to come and go and hide and slam. Rosie Issel’s accurate props and living room furniture, fixtures with glass table tops, wonderful knick knacks, wall art and silverware that is tossed around the set from time to time enhance the set. David Gotieb’s indoor light design for this large living space is excellent with so many nooks and exits to cover, but missing is large window to give that early evening feel.
Mae Heagerty-Matos’ cocktail wear costumes glitter on the women and are elegant on the men. Dan Demers who morphs into his kitchen apron and his wife Kelly Hudson in Cookie's Russian inspired outfit with its hanging tassels; steals many scenes as she yelps back pain comic relief and crawls on all fours as the audience roars. The women's wigs and hair design is perfect by Dee Morrissey, and I bet at least some of the men wore some nice looking wigs. Sound designer Zak Stamps creates the necessary gun shots, falling pans and cars driving up to the house and includes some well chosen music that upper-class snobs play to be hip.
Thanks to the skillful direction of Hunt Burdick’s and his wonderful cast this Neil Simon romp is a must see. Closing weekend very few seats remain, but there is a waiting list for each show this weekend. So what is the Rumor all about - my tip is that you what to spread the rumor that this play is wonderful crazy hilarious fun. Next up at the HillBarn begins their 77th season with the Bay Area premiere of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME that opens this summer August 24th.
HILLBARN THEATRE CONTINUES ITS “SEASON OF BELONGING”
WITH NEIL SIMON’S CLASSIC FARCE
By Niel Simon
Directed by Hunt Burdick
Featuring; Bill Davidovich, Bobbi Fagone, Dan Demers, Jim Amato, Kelly
Hudson, Linda Picoone, Nicole Martin, Paul G Smith and David Street
Must Close March 26, 2017,
1285 East Hillsdale Boulevard, Foster City CA.
Tickets are available online at
www.hillbarntheatre.org or by calling 650-349-6411.
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HillbarnTheatre/?hc_ref=SEARCH
Photo's by Mark and Tracy Photography.