The Rumors are True: Student Theater Brings Comedy To Colgate



You are cordially invited to the 10th anniversary dinner party of your dear friends, but don’t expect just another monotonous evening in a black and white living room with dull people dressed in tuxedos and cocktail dresses. You arrive to find the cook and butler gone, the food uncooked, the table unset and the hostess missing. Upstairs, the host is found drugged on Valium with a bullet wound to the ear in what looks suspiciously like a botched suicide. Throw eight guests, several gunshots, a nosy policeman and a full bar into the mix, and you’ve got yourself an interesting party – exactly the opposite of what you’d expected of the evening. This is the situation facing Ken and Chris Gorman, played by sophomores John Slefinger and Dani Nolan, as they arrive on the scene for Student Theater’s production of Neil Simon’s Rumors, directed by senior Jeremy DeAngelo and produced by senior Rebecca Spiro. DeAngelo, a seasoned actor and writer, is nevertheless a first-time director, who, with a very young cast, forged forward with one goal in mind: make them laugh. DeAngelo chose the script for its hilarity and says that he wanted to present a play in which comedy is the primary focus. With a time constraint, the cast worked hard to face this challenge by memorizing lines over winter break and relying heavily on a wonderful crew who provided costumes, sound, lighting and much more. Technical directors senior Amitabha Gupta, sophomore Chelsea Glessner and first-year Sumner Ellsworth built virtually the entire set themselves, with help from the Theater Technical Director Sandy Wohlleber. First-year Anne Slotnick, who played Claire Ganz, said it best: “I’m so proud of the way the cast and crew came together to support each other and make this project such a success.”DeAngelo noted that this script was fun for actors because each member of the cast had a piece of physical comedy to work with, be it a persistent back-ache or trying to open a door with burned, gauze-wrapped hands. It’s the type of show that moves on to the next joke while you’re still laughing at the last. There is a wide variety of humor ranging from slapstick to satire and everything in between. DeAngelo notes that “Rumors has a joke for everybody – banter, irony, pantomime, non sequitur and other big fancy words that describe something that makes you laugh out loud.” Nolan says: “These kinds of comedy make you think about the world in ways that drama can never touch. They rely on witty language to get laughs and to make points … how can you not respect that? Neil Simon’s a master of the stuff.”From The Odd Couple fame, Neil Simon introduces us to several upper echelon odd couples who gather at the home of the deputy of New York, Charles Brock, and his wife, Myra, in this self-proclaimed “comedy of manners without the manners.” As each couple arrives and is told a different story in order to cover up the truth, the lines between truth and speculation become blurred, especially once each of the guests begins to spread a different rumor based on the story they were originally told. As each rumor is whispered and attributed to Carol Newman, the guru of gossip, and Harold Green, the club’s newest social (non-tennis playing) member, and their ability to keep their mouths shut on the tennis court, we begin to learn that all is not as it seems. Under the stress, each of the characters slowly begins to crack, and private problems become a matter of public domain. Insults are thrown about, and it becomes obvious that everyone is saying a bit too much. Almost every character is implicated in some sordid affair – usually with another character – and the each character’s insecurities begin to surface. As the night progresses, each character takes on his or her own role in the situation. Each couple is its own entity, knows something different about Charlie’s condition and has a different role to play. Ken Gorman, played by Slefinger, starts as the facilitator and diplomat between each of the warring couples but is forced to step down because a gun goes off next to his ear. According to other testimonies from each of the characters, it’s possible that a manhole cover blew near his ear, or perhaps it was a can of shaving cream exploding. Regardless of the rumors, he spends much of the remainder of the play with a hot towel over his head, providing comic relief as he misinterprets every line spoken to him.First-year Ryan Dunbar plays Lenny, a stressed out accountant with a penchant for sarcasm and screaming, takes over as diplomat and is frequently forced to impersonate Myra, the missing hostess, so as not to alert Ernie and Cookie – played by first-year Andrew Burten and junior Lindsey Guerin – that anything is amiss. Ernie and Cookie are told that the mishaps of the evening are, in actuality, part of a surprise for the guests who have actually come to a “put your own party together” party. Ernie winds up as the butler, and Cookie as the cook, and they seem to be the only two who enjoy the party. Ernie is actually Charlie’s psychiatrist, and one hopes that he might use his experience to straighten out the situation – and maybe even the people involved – but after burning his hands and being bullied, he too becomes sucked into the rules of engagement.A new set of laws emerges as well. Eavesdropping and gossiping become matters of security, domestic fights become battles and impersonations and lies and secrecy are used for one’s own protection. It even becomes socially acceptable to eat off the floor. When the play ends, we are not sure if we have just witnessed the presentation of a microcosm of a people under duress or a case study in the human psyche, the validity of love and marriage, and comedy in its rawest form – human nature. What we do know is that Carol Newman will just die when she hears about this at the club on Tuesday.