Chortle, giggle, guffaw

Neil Simon's Rumors is two hours of pure mirth.

Published May 25, 2007

Fans of Neil Simon - and who isn't? - may find his Rumors a little surprising.

Most Simon shows are dramady, a mix of drama and comedy. Beneath the trademark one-liners and hilarious situations, there's usually a heart-tugging story of tangled relationships between ordinary, middle-class people. Think Sunshine Boys, Odd Couple, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Prisoner of Second Avenue, all funny shows with serious themes and situations.

Not Rumors.

Rumors is a knee-slapping farce that's strictly for laughs. It opens June 1 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre for a six-week run.

"This show is awesome, " said Todd Eskin, director and production stage manager for the show. "It's a good change of pace" after the more sentimental Swingtime Canteen, which wraps up its run on Sunday.

"We have a great group of professionals, and their timing is impeccable, " Eskin said.

Rumors is set in the swanky New York apartment of Deputy Mayor Charley Brock and his wealthy wife, Myra. The Brocks have invited four couples over to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

When the gossipy sophisticates Chris and Ken Gorman (Erin Romero, Lina in Singin' in the Rain; and Michael Lundy, Clifford in Cabaret) arrive to find an apparently empty house (horror of horrors, not even any kitchen help), they are taken aback.

Ken quickly finds Charley upstairs, covered in blood, the result of a gunshot through his earlobe. It's not life threatening, but it is career-threatening, especially because Charley is incoherent and Myra is missing.

So when Charley's accountant Lenny Ganz (Drew DeCaro) and his wife, Claire (Susan Haldeman, Vera in Mame), arrive, Chris and Ken concoct a story to cover up what's going on.

When Charley's analyst, Ernie Cusack (Tony Messina, Jeff in Brigadoon), and his wife, Cookie (LoriAnn Freda, Lily in Swingtime Canteen), ring the doorbell, Lenny and Claire embellish on the story originally made up by Chris and Ken.

It goes over the top when the ambitious young politician Glenn Cooper (W.C. Green, King in Victor/Victoria) and his pouty wife, Cassie (Debra Arnott, in her Show Palace debut), arrive to add to the confusion.

When the cops (Rick Kistner, Babcock in Mame; Tyler Fish, Cosmo in Singin' in the Rain) show up, all the guests begin to improvise, contradict and dash around, trying to protect the deputy mayor.

Then, as the saying goes, chaos ensues.

"There's no hidden message or social significance, " Eskin said. "Just two hours of side-splitting comedy."

If you go

Neil Simon's 'Rumors'

Where: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson.

When: Opens June 1. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Doors open two hours earlier for cash bar and included buffet. Shows are also at 1:15 p.m. some Thursdays and Saturdays, when doors open at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets: Dinner and show, $42.50; show only, $31.45, plus tax and tip. Call for children's pricing. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll free elsewhere 1-888-655-7469.