Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
By Neil Simon
Directed by Paul Kloegman
Rumors ran successfully on Broadway in 1988/89, and Christine Baranski won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. It’s described as a farce, but (as you might expect from Neil Simon) there are a lot of clever lines, so I would say it’s a comedy with some elements of confusion. The scene is the luxurious home of Charlie Brock, the Deputy Mayor of New York, and his wife Myra. It’s their fortieth wedding anniversary, and they’ve invited four couples – their closest friends – to celebrate the occasion.
Unfortunately, the hostess is not around, the maid and the cook have left without preparing any food, and the host is upstairs bleeding profusely. Apparently he’s been shot. What is going on? Well, nobody knows and the Press mustn’t find out, so the eight guests have a hilarious time running around while inventing more or less plausible explanations.
An excellent cast did a great job with the play, and kept up a terrific pace throughout. Collette Clavadetscher was suitably frantic as “Chris” and had some very funny telephone conversations, while husband “Ken” (played by director Paul Kloegman) runs up and down stairs shouting instructions. The next to arrive are “Lenny and Claire” played with style by Dave McIntosh and Candace Luciano. Lenny is hungry, which probably explains his ill humor because there’s no food, and I particularly enjoyed his unsuccessful battle with a bag of pretzels. Meanwhile Claire is delightfully laid back amid all the confusion.
When they discover that their host has shot himself in the ear lobe, she calmly remarks that she also has holes in her ears – not a problem. Then we meet “Ernie and Cookie” – a very affectionate couple, who use terms of endearment all the time, Poopie, Snoopie, Honeypie, etc. Zane Pumiglia is very natural as Ernie, the friendly analyst, while Georgette Richmond is great as Cookie (who has a cooking show on TV) and incidentally has a bad back. She says she’s fine unless she’s sitting or getting up. Finally Al Kirkland Jr (who did well in his first part at LLT) comes on as “Glenn” who is running for State Senator and may possibly be having an affair on the side. Sharon Lowry is wonderfully bitchy as his wife “Cassie” – she certainly makes the most of her lines as the spouse from hell. Towards the end of the show, Fred Koesling comes on to the confused scene as “Officer Welch” a cop investigating a traffic accident, together with newcomer Alice Poltrock as his sidekick.
Paul Kloegman did a professional job directing this play, and he got the best from a good cast. He also had to stand in as “Ken,” taking on the part in about two weeks, quite an achievement. I don’t always enjoy Neil Simon’s New York humor, but this was a terrific show – thanks to all involved. I must also mention the wonderful set – special thanks to designer Beth Cathcart and her assistant Joan Warren. Leslie DeCarl was Stage Manager and Win McIntosh was Production Assistant. Congratulations to all.