Rumours deserves bigger audiences

Submitted photo by Greg Pinchin Barb Grenier, as Cookie Cusack, leans over the couch to talk to Heather A. Barker (as Claire Ganz) and Margaret Murray (as Chris Gorman), while Bill Petch (Glenn Cooper) is on the telephone. The Belleville Theatre Guild’s production of Rumours runs until Dec. 15.

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Comedy in the Pinnacle Playhouse is normally an easy sell.
But the current offering by the Belleville Theatre Guild, “Rumours,” has been suffering for lack of audiences. Attendance at early performances was light, despite the fact this is another classic gem from the pen of award-winning playwright Neil Simon, whose many hit comedic plays have been entertaining audiences all over the world for generations.
Small audiences must be just the busyness of the season as the entertainment value of this classic farce will soon be spread around by word of mouth. From start to finish there is giggling to outright roaring laughter at the frantic antics of this talented cast, featuring many seasoned actors.
The set is stunning, a lovely multi-level construction with stairs and lots of doors to allow for the many ins and outs typical in a farce show. Director Maija Thompson’s notes reveals the plot is about a tenth anniversary party gone wrong and expressed the hope that “none of your holiday parties go astray like this one.”
Margaret Murray, as Chris Gorman and her husband, Ken, played by veteran Scott Roodvoets, enter the lavish home of the deputy mayor of New York City as first guests to the anniversary party. They discover their host, Charlie, bleeding all over his bed from a gunshot wound to his head, the cook and house servants, all staff, are gone and no food is prepared. Concluding that the wound is an attempt at suicide, Ken frets about protecting his best friend and client’s reputation by covering the incident up, but then other guests start arriving. They all want to know the same thing: where is Charlie and his wife, and the staff?
Dave Henderson and Heather A, Barker, as Lenny and Claire Ganz, (Lenny is Charlie’s accountant,) are hungry and want food or snacks and Ken Gorman lies that their hosts are still getting changed in their bedroom. The Ganz’s day started out when Lenny’s brand new Mercedes Benz gets violently T-boned in an accident on the way.
Charlie’s psychotherapist, Ernie Cusack (played by Gerry Fraiberg) and his wife, Cookie, (played by Barb Grenier) a TV chef host, then arrive. Ernie quickly senses the nervous tensions and insists something is wrong. Meanwhile Cookie, suffering from back spasms, shrieks and writhes in pain from time to time, but offers to prepare a meal. Chris Gorman and Clair Ganz, to overcome their confusion and tension, become drinking buddies and soak themselves into oblivion. Throughout, Ken and Lenny are running up and down the stairs and in and out of bedrooms, checking on Charlie and his wife and trying to invent stories to cover it all up.
More arrivals, Glenn and Cassie Cooper, played by stalwarts Bill Petch and an alluring Wendy Roy, deeply involved in a jealous feud which threatens Glenn’s efforts at a political career. When police officers, played by Christine Leggat and Chris Bauer, finally arrive the confusion and stories they hear lead to disbelief and more problems for the harried guests.
This play is full of wild, earthy dialogue, perhaps not fit for children, plenty of action and interaction plus spectacular costumes and lush, jazzy background music. The guild invites area residents to start their holiday season off with some hearty laughter and they are delivering the goods.” Rumours” runs through Dec. 15.For tickets or information, call the box office: (613) 967-1442.

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