Knee-slapping Neil Simon farce delivers high-quality comic timing

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By Bob Evans

If you like side-splitting chaos and laughter, get your tickets now for The Barn’s newest comedy farce, Neil Simon’s “Rumors” that runs June 2-18 at The Barn Players Playhouse.

Opening night brought a nearly sold out audience to their feet and had them laughing throughout the show. Director Bill Pelletier knows how to find the laughs in each line and hit it with every actor in every line. Combine his direction with a knockout cast and watch theater magic unfold.

Seldom will you hear gales of laughter throughout a show, but in this case, the laughs begin within the first minute when a couple arrives for a party to find no hosts, no butler, no maid, uncooked food, and a bleeding man upstairs with a self-inflicted gun shot wound. The laughs begin quickly and never stop.

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Even during intermission, audience members visited and discussed the show and laughed throughout the 15-minute break. You know you are watching success when the audience carries on about the show and laughs during the pause.

Act I ends on a crazy note with no idea where the show can further develop. Yes, Simon’s masterful mind opens Act II with the same fits of laugher as Act I and the audiences roared its approval. “Rumors” assembles a cast of 10 at a cocktail party, and with no host or hostess, supposition and rumors become fodder for the evening.

As characters keep arriving for the party, the rumors, lies, and deception continue to weave intricate, far-fetched ideas as the guests all add more to the problem than the solution. Just like any good farce, expect lots of doors to slam and characters to enter and exit with each slamming of another door. Each slam and enter/exit brings more enjoyment to the audience as the characters and situation weave an intricate web of deception and preposterous absurdity.

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The cast is: Ken Gorman, Trevor Belt; Chris Gorman, Rachael Redler; Lenny Ganz, Terry Erbe; Claire Ganz, Victoria Hoffman; Ernie Cusack, Doug Ford; Cookie Cusack, Dee Dee Diemer; Glenn Cooper, Peter Leondedis; Cassie Cooper, Larissa Briley; Officer Welch, Max Deshon; Officer Pudney, Nora Dooley.

In “Rumors” pinpoint timing necessitates actors’ focus and detailed performances. One weak actor or missed line could cause the delicate structure of the piece to lose its pacing. Never worry, Pelletier’s cast is laser focused and razor sharp. No weaknesses appeared for opening night. And, with a comedy farce, a cast needs the audience to help develop the laughs and fine-tune the rapid pace of the show.

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Have no fear, “Rumors” entertains from start to finish. With this caliber of actors finding standout performances come from the leads, primarily because their characters have more opportunities to showcase their talents. Expect great performances from Trevor Belt; Rachael Redler; Terry Erbe; and Victoria Hoffman. As the first members on stage, their comic timing sets the tone for the characters and actors to follow. The ensemble cast just flows easily as the show develops and more characters just add additional craziness. Also, expect lots of laughs from Doug Ford. His character gets a chance to shine in Act II.

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For this production, the production and technical team deserve high praise.  The set is gorgeous.  The costumes are detailed.  The props are spot-on appropriate.  The sound design makes every word clear.  The lighting adds to the show.  Not one weakness can be found from those aspects of the production.  The team led by Pelletier includes:  D.K. Evenson, stage manager; Marla Gonzales, costume design; J. Patrick Inlow, lighting design; Bill Wright, set design and construction.

 

Word of mouth sells tickets, and after last night’s opening, ticket demand will create sold out performances. Do not delay in purchasing tickets prior to performances. Tickets can be purchased via The Barn Players website.

 

 

Tags: The Barn Players, “Rumors”, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Comedy

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