Arts and Entertainment

'Rumors,' a 'laugh riot,' has experienced director at helm

For the Mirror

Centerstage Theatre’s first production of 2005, the Neil Simon comedy “Rumors,” will open a two-week run this Friday at Knutzen Family Theater.

Artistic director Alan Bryce reported opening-night is sold out, an early audience reaction that “is exactly what we were looking for” when Centerstage decided to go with the popular Simon story in the footsteps of “A Christmas Carol.” The latter production in December “broke all our box office records,” he said.

Centerstage’s board of directors has a new policy favoring productions of “popular work.”

The Federal Way theater company’s production of “Rumors” is headed by director Cynthia White. Her directorial resume includes “Turn of the Screw” at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, “A Streetcar Named Desire” at the Utah Shakespeare Festival “Our Town and Twelfth Night” at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

White was director of play development at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland from 1986 through 1996. While at Ashland, she also directed “Woman In Mind,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Voice of the Prairie,” “Ballerina” and “Toys In The Attic.”

“Directing ‘Rumors’ has been a rewarding and challenging experience, not to mention a laugh riot,” White said. “The play is not built of jokes so much as it is structured something like a game of Hot Potato: Keep the potato in the air and don’t hold it long enough to get burned.”

“Rumors’” four couples find themselves at a 10th wedding-anniversary party with no hostess but a host who’s been shot in the ear. The first couple to arrive –– lawyers –– feel compelled to protect everyone and to cover up the evidence before anyone is implicated.

“You’ll be surprised how far one can stretch a little tiny bit of truth,” White said of the show that, with a PG-13 rating, is “ideal for family viewing.”

She added, “I sometimes feel like I’m playing with a stack of dominoes. I’m striving to get everyone set up so that when we tap the first domino with the first words of the play, the whole stack falls over one by one.”

Performances are scheduled through March 6 on Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2. Tickets are available through Centerstage at 661-1444 or www.centerstagetheatre.com.

The cast includes Mathew Ahrens, Bob Barnett, Eva Doak, Jane May, Jason Rose, Dave Tucker, Allison Schumache, Heidi Weinreich, Dean Wilson and Holly Slyter.

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