Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Vpstart Crow Rumors

By • Jul 15th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Rumors by Neil Simon
Vpstart Crow
Gregory Family Theatre, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas, VA
Through July 24th
2:25 with one intermission
$20/$15 Students
Reviewed July 14th, 2011

Rumors is a two act comedy by Neil Simon. Charlie and his wife Myra have invited a few guests over to help them celebrate their tenth anniversary. The only problem is, Myra is nowhere to be found, the cook and the wait staff have gone away and Charlie has managed to shoot himself in the ear with a gun. Then the guests begin to arrive and the cover-ups keep covering up.

This was a typical Neil Simon comedy, full of laughter, mistaken identities, secrets, and scandal. What a better time to have a dinner party! Overall the Vpstart cast gave a commendable performance. There were some line as well as pacing issues and some interesting blocking decisions by the show’s director, but the show was funny and the cast and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves very much.

The first hapless couple to arrive were Chris and Ken Gorman, played by Tegan Cohen and Mike Rudden. Both played their parts believably. Cohen managed to stay involved with the action on the stage even when she was not the center of attention. Rudden’s bit in the second act when a gunshot robbed him of his hearing was quite funny and he played it up well.

Claire and Lenny Ganz (played by Shaina Higgins and Rob Batarla) were an uptight, snobby couple. The Gormans (Gormen?) at first tried to keep Charlie’s ear hidden, but quickly ran out of excuses and had to share the little secret with the Ganzes. This caused quite a bit of excitement for Higgins who then felt the need to share with her husband Lenny, who could care less, after all the other rumors she has come across at their “club.” Batarla had a monologue in the second act that was delivered with an unparalleled sincerity, receiving a nice round of applause from the audience at its completion.

The third couple to arrive were Cookie and Ernie Cusak. They were probably the most down-to-earth couple. Cookie, played by Maureen Frank, was perhaps ditzy in a sweetly endearing way. Having her own cooking show made her the perfect solution to the fact that the hired help has all disappeared. Ernie Cusak played by Larry Keeling seemed a bit stiff in the first act, but warmed up well to his role in the second act. As a reasonable man, Keeling kept his thoughts and temper in check until it was no longer possible.

The last couple to arrive were not happy and had no desire to be a couple. Cassie (played by Julie Cameron) was sure her husband was having an affair and it did not matter who knew it. She was an angry woman and felt the best revenge was to flirt with everyone else rpesent, adding another layer of tension to the evening. This of course did not sit well with Claire or Lenny. Glenn Cooper, the state senator hopeful, was played by Matthew Randall. As the calm, cool senator Randall could control every situation, except any involving his wife. The two clashed, and this made the evening all the more entertaining.

The two cameo roles by Officers Pudney and Welch completed the off the wall evening. Officer Pudney (Jacqueline Brown) had some opening night jitters and the timing got a little out of sync at that point. She did have some funny lines which she delivered with much finger pointing and arm waving which caused much laughter. Officer Welch played by Wesley Allen was easy going, but dedicated to the blue and gold.

The set by Designer Mark Waldman was well done and detailed. As the Hylton Performing Arts Center is a larger and higher performing area without a proscenium, the set was much wider than deep and sometimes it seemed there was a lot of walking across the set, such as to reach the telephone which rang constantly. Sound Designer Rob Batarla made sure the sound effects were loud, but not overwhelming, unless called for. Lighting Designer Bethany Gooddell created a warm atmosphere with the simple lights, although there was one odd dark spot down center.

There were a few line problems and opening night jitters, which should go away as performances continue, but the problems still allowed for Neil Simon’s comedy to shine through.

From The Director

Neil Simon is one of America’s most prolific and most popular playwrights, for both the stage and film. He has written both comedies and drama with equal dexterity, starting as early as 1966, and was one of the screwball writing staff for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. After twenty years, however, his writing turned autobiographical with the popular trilogy, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, and Lost in Yonkers. It was only after these three that he wrote Rumors, which he himself titles “A Farce.”

Farce has many different faces and definitions, a few of which we present for your choice. You may see some or all of these in our production:

  • A comedy which aims to entertain by means of unlikely, improbably situations
  • The use of mistaken identity to varyig degrees of sophistication
  • Sexual innuendo, word play, physical humor, and/or deliberate absurdity
  • Humans who are vain, irrational, neurotic, and/or prone to automatic behavior
  • Naughty behavior that the characters attempt to hide and may get away with.

There is no moral message to our presentation. We are here only to entertain you. Enjoy!!

Donald Neal, Director

Photo Gallery

Shaina Higgins (Claire), Tegan Cohen (Chris) Shaina Higgins (Claire) and Rob Batarla (Lenny)
Shaina Higgins (Claire), Tegan Cohen (Chris)
Shaina Higgins (Claire) and Rob Batarla (Lenny)
Matthew Randall (Glenn) and Larry Keeling (Ernie) Tegan Cohen (Chris) and Julie Cameron (Cassie)
Matthew Randall (Glenn) and Larry Keeling (Ernie)
Tegan Cohen (Chris) and Julie Cameron (Cassie)
Matthew Randall (Glenn), Tegan Cohen (Chris), Mike Rudden (Ken), Larry Keeling (Ernie), Shaina Higgins (Claire), Rob Batarla (Lenny) and Maureen Frank (Cookie) Rob Batarla (Lenny), Mike Rudden (Ken), Larry Keeling (Ernie) and Matthew Randall (Glenn)
Matthew Randall (Glenn), Tegan Cohen (Chris), Mike Rudden (Ken), Larry Keeling (Ernie), Shaina Higgins (Claire), Rob Batarla (Lenny) and Maureen Frank (Cookie)
Rob Batarla (Lenny), Mike Rudden (Ken), Larry Keeling (Ernie) and Matthew Randall (Glenn)

Photos provided by Vpstart Crow


  • Chris Gorman: Tegan Cohen
  • Ken Gorman: Mike Rudden
  • Claire Ganz: Shaina Higgins
  • Lenny Ganz: Rob Batarla
  • Cookie Cusak: Maureen Frank
  • Ernie Cusak: Larry Keeling
  • Cassie Cooper: Julie Cameron
  • Glenn Cooper: Matthew Randall
  • Officer Pudney: Wesley Allen
  • Officer Welch: Jacqueline Brown

Production Team

  • Artistic Director: Rob Batarla
  • Managing Director: Clemente Santiago III
  • Producer: Rob Batarla
  • Director: Don Neal
  • Stage Manager: Clemente Santiago III
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Leandra Lynn
  • Technical Director: Mark Waldman
  • Set Designer: Mark Waldman
  • Lighting Designer: Bethany Gooddell
  • Sound Designer: Rob Batarla
  • Costume Designer: Johanna Schoenborn
  • Properties: Jean Gentry, Maureen Frank
  • Hair and Makeup: Mary Price
  • Poster Designer: Brian Anderson
  • Program Designer: Bob Smith

Disclaimer: Vpstart Crow provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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