Rumor Has It That CTC Has A Hit On Their Hands

SAJ_8808Years ago I stage-managed a production of Neil Simon’s farce Rumors. We had this great big proscenium arch stage that we filled with a two-level home, the setting for Charlie and Myra’s 10th anniversary party. The set had plenty of doors, and of course stairs, as the script makes mention of the stairs multiple times. When I heard that South Kingstown’s Contemporary Theater Company was staging this show, I knew I had to check it out. After all, last year they needed an upstairs for their production, and handled it in a very clever way. How would they deliver for Rumors?

Enter CTC’s artistic director Christopher Simpson and his lovely set. It is true that CTC does not have ginormous ceilings, but Simpson made a set that proved you don’t need it. Time and time again CTC rises to the occasion with their shows, even when the script calls for a much larger space. He gave the set an almost “raised ranch” type of feel, and it worked! It was one of the numerous things that worked in this production.

Neil Simon’s farce is a fast-paced dinner party from hell. All we know is that Chris (Maggie Papa) and Ken (Sami Avigdor) arrived to the Brock household for a 10th anniversary party when they hear a gunshot. When the lights go up, Ken has put the injured Charlie to bed and is trying to piece together the events that led to this. Of course as the play goes on, more couples show up.  What follows is a hilarious he said / she said comedy that ping-pongs from one side of the set to the other.

It truly is an ensemble cast, but there are a few people who have to be mentioned. Sami Avigdor and Maggie Papa set the pace perfectly in the opening scene. They are frantic, hilarious and take command of their playing area. You can’t help but wait for Sami to enter the stage once again, and you really want to pass Maggie that cigarette her character so badly wants. This opening scene is critical. If it’s played wrong, the entire night will be off kilter. After all, you’re sitting in an audience watching two characters talk about a gunshot, and this is supposed to be funny? It is thanks to this couple onstage.

Andrew Katzman does not have an easy job in this play. Besides having to consistently sell us that he has whiplash, he has a moment in the second act that is just so darn funny and well done it’s hard to describe. It is not often when a play — not a musical — is being performed that the audience erupts into applause mid-scene. Katzman’s consistently funny performance draws this out of the audience, and rightly so.

Isn’t it great to see Ashley Macamaux on stage? I always enjoy seeing her in roles, and this one in particular. She not only has the most physical role in the show, there is plenty of that to go around, but she performs each fall so earnestly, and I occasionally found myself watching her as the action progressed, because she is just so darn funny.

Rounding out this production is Steph Rodger who does a standup portrayal of Clair (her first scene especially), Charlie Santos, who does a great job as the nerdy therapist, he just as easily could have been placed in an ’80s movie it was so spot-on, Robin Deering who does a fine job with the crystal-loving Cassie, Witt Tatantino who always delivers, and Peter Bucci, who has to come in as the straight man who stays as serious as ever while the most insane things go on around him. A truly difficult thing to master on stage.

Head down to Contemporary Theater Company to catch this show before it sells out. And not to sound too much like a Rhode Islander, remember to leave your house a little earlier to accommodate any traffic on Route 1! Yes, you may have to drive a little to get to CTC, but this show is worth it. These days we could all use a good laugh and an escape, and CTC delivers that!

Rumors will be on the CTC stage until August 13 with Pay-What-You-Can performances on Thursdays.  Visit their website at contemporarytheatercompany.com for tickets, or call the box office at 401-218-0282.

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