Need a good laugh? ‘Rumors’ is a must-see

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BY ANGELA HATCHER: Long Beach Playhouse’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” brings two hours of pure unabashed, shameless, and uproarious laughter to its audience, and Director James Rice keeps his talented cast moving along at full throttle with great comedic timing and impeccable precision.

BY ANGELA HATCHER: Long Beach Playhouse’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” brings two hours of pure unabashed, shameless, and uproarious laughter to its audience, and Director James Rice keeps his talented cast moving along at full throttle with great comedic timing and impeccable precision.

While Rumors rejoices in a dinner party “train wreck,” it would be wise to keep both hands on the wheel since this fine tuned “runaway” engine is heading out at full speed with barely enough time to breathe between an avalanche of knee-slapping chortles and continuous hilarity.

Although Simon has penned many plays with deeper meaning, “Rumors” is played out strictly for laughs, and LPB’s production delivers pure fast-paced comedy at its best.

Act I opens as four wealthy “hoity-toity” couples individually arrive at the posh suburban home of the deputy mayor of New York, Charlie Brock, and his wife, in celebration of their 10th wedding anniversary; only – the host has shot himself in the head, the wife has gone missing, and there’s not a maid, nor butler in the house.

Shockingly though, there’s no canapés ready, no dinner on the stove, and no one there to get the party started.

Here we have four couples dressed in elegant attire, trying desperately to entertain themselves, steer clear of a major scandal, and avoid getting arrested. Rumors fly, gossip is rampant, and the group tries to settle on what cover-ups make the most sense.

The cast is solid, and equally well matched. The polished actors play off each other as one harmonious symphony that keeps the melody rolling off the page in a sort of secret synchronicity that is bound by sheer commitment and camaraderie.

Lee Samuel Tanng is particularly hilarious as the skeptical and utterly exasperated Lenny Ganz, and this part appears as if custom-made for Tanng. Although this ensemble charitably shares the stage, Tanng’s monologue in the second act proves that he has the chops to steal the spotlight when the time comes.

As Chris Gorman, Sarah Green’s energy and slightly off balanced persona is impressive as she hurriedly captures the exuberance and liveliness of her bouncy character.

Once the pragmatic analyst, Ernie Cusack (Cort Huckabone) slaps on a pair of oversized oven mitts, all bets are off, and the slapstick farce has come to its silliest best.

Other must mentions are: Ashley Gilmore as Officer Puddney, Gary Douglas as Officer Welch, Eva Dailey as Cassie Cooper, Richard Golfin III as Glenn Cooper, Susie McCarthy as Cookie Cusack, Fiona Austin as Claire Ganz, and Jeff Cheezum as Ken Gorman.

It is time to buckle up and hang on for one of the most hilarious rides of the season. Director James Rice said, “The greatest, and most often dismissed, gift of theater is its ability to tell stories that make us laugh.”

“Rumors”

 Long Beach Playhouse

5021 E. Anaheim St.

Long Beach, CA 90804

Call 562-494-1014.

www.lbplayhouse.org

Runs through March 25