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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 17, 2024


March 5, 2002 – "Rumors," the current Pistarckle Theater production, is a Neil Simon slapstick comedy that quickly became a box-office hit after opening in New York in 1988, with theatre critic Clive Barnes pronouncing it a "maze of mendacity" that is "light, frothy and fun."
It's lies, to use a shorter word than "mendacity," that "Rumors" is all about.
"We did the play because it is a farce," Pistarckle producer Nicola Emerich says, and because it's "a very good Neil Simon — he sells." Also, she adds, "The theme of marriage and friendship under stress is universal."
Simon has been certifiably boffo at the box office for decades, collecting four Tonys, two Emmys, a Screen Writers Guild award and a Pulitzer Prize along the way. "Rumors" was a reversion to light comedy for the playwright, whose preceding hits in the 1980s had been serious autobiographical plays — "Brighton Beach Memoirs," "Biloxi Blues," "Broadway Bound."
The building blocks of the "Rumors" plot are one outrageous untruth piled upon another, precipitating, in domino effect, one hilarious disaster after another. A departure for Simon is that the play is focused on upper-class society.
It opens at the townhouse of the deputy mayor of New York and his wife, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary and have invited four other couples for dinner. However, the host has apparently overdosed on tranquilizers and attempted suicide, managing only to shoot his earlobe. The hostess, meanwhile, is missing. Each arriving couple gets a different story about what has happened, and group dynamics mix things up even more. Eventually, the police arrive, but that by no means clears everything up.
Adding icing on the Simon cake for St. Thomas, Emerich says, Pistarckle is blessed with a talent pool of "excellent actors — Janet Mescus, Scottie Brower, and company — who can handle the material." Brower also had leading roles in the company's earlier productions this season, "The Complete Works of Willialm Shakespeare (abridged)" and "You Can't Take It With You."
In the Pistarckle production, Brower is cast as Ken Gorman, and Mescus is his wife, Chris Gorman. Chip Brookes and Rose Jensen play Lenny and Claire Ganz, respectively. Bill Mahoney and Dena Benson portray Ernie and Cookie Cusack. And Randall Doty and Tina Patel are Glenn and Cassie Cooper. Trey Davis and Mo Stanton have the roles of police officers.
Behind the scenes, Jonn Jorgensen is directing the production, with Stanton doing double duty as stage manager. Don Chandler's in charge of the sound and lighting, with Liz Puhlman assisting. Pam Sullivan designed the set.
The play's official opening was last Saturday. Still to come are performances this Thursday, Friday and Saturday and those of the next two weeks — March 14-16 and 21-23. Curtain time is 8 p.m.
Tickets are $15 in advance and $19 at the door for general admission. There are reduced rates of $10 for students, $5 each for students in groups of 10 or more, and $12 for school teachers and staff. Outlets are the American Yacht Harbor office, Bumpa's on the Waterfront, the Draughting Shaft, East End Secretarial Services, Flagship, Marina Market and Tillett Gallery. For charge card purchases, call the Pistarckle office at 775-7877.

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