Laughs abounded on last weekend at when the drama club presented Neil Simon's farcical play, Rumors. This was another top notch performance directed by Jonathan Chiaramonte. He along with assistant director, Michael Burke; student director, Ryan Cavanagh and the stellar cast and crew outdid themselves, going above and beyond what is expected of a school production.
Before the show even began, all eyes were drawn to the phenomenal set depicting a posh, Long Island mansion, where all the action took place. Stage managers: Mike Schulz, Sonia Moran, Sulay Fernandez and the design crew showed a commendable attention to detail, thus drawing the audience into the zany world of several neurotic, nouveau riche couples.
The bawdy bathos began with the strident and hysterical married lawyers, Ken and Chris Gorman (Ryan Cavanagh and Ally Gruber) arriving at the 10th anniversary party of Charlie Brock, the Deputy Mayor of New York, and his wife Myra — only to find that nothing is as it should be. Charlie (who remains unseen in an upstairs bedroom) has a bleeding ear which ostensibly resulted from a botched suicide attempt, and now appears to be passed out on Valium. Meanwhile, Myra and the servants are nowhere to be found.
Cavanagh and Gruber are delightfully harried. As the other colorful couples arrive, they vacillate between trying to cover up the scandalous situation and filling them in on all the sordid details. Cavanagh fills the bill as the quintessential straight man. His obliviousness, stemming from a temporary hearing loss, provides many of the performance's chuckles.
The next couple to arrive at the scene of the crime is the unsuspecting Lenny and Clair Ganz (Paul Gagliardi and Victoria Isernia.) The fiery duo light up the stage. Isernia's portrayal of the over-the-top, snooty and glamorous socialite was replete with opportunities for physical comedy, and provided many occasions for laugh out loud hilarity as her character got progressively drunker as the strange night wore on. Clair drank out of a vase, wore a lampshade on her head and stumbled around in her elegant frock, spewing deadpan one-liners as dry as a martini. While Gagliardi's commanding presence infused the character with a manic energy that culminated in a sublime and ridiculous monologue which was one of the play's highlights.
Showing up, more than fashionably late, to the suspicious soiree were candidate for the State Senate Glen Cooper and his vindictive, new-agey wife Cassie (Tyler Giaquinto and Pam Rattinger.) Gianquinto embodied the arrogant and ambitious man with political aspirations to a tee, while Rattinger was spellbinding as the brazen, "crystal rubbing" blonde bombshell, trophy wife.
Also in the mix were the cloyingly lovey-dovey couple, high-priced psychoanalyst Ernie Cusack and his long-suffering, accident prone cooking show host wife, aptly named Cookie (Christopher Isolano and Elliana Gianacopoulos.) Isolano adeptly embodied the stereotypical sensitive shrink. Gianacopoulous imbued Cookie with a sweetness that made her, possibly, the only sympathetic character to be found.
The highlight of the performance was when, in order to feign obliviousness to the sound of gunshots and to protect their own reputations, as a police car approached, the couples blasted Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back", and proceeded to bust a move as Officer Welch (Kenneth Crimmins) and his partner Officer Pudney (Laura Laureano) came to investigate one of the many incidents that took place that evening.
The play had everything required of a proper farce: implausible scenarios, chance injuries, enough nuts to keep Ernie the shrink in business indefinitely and an ending as satisfyingly ludicrous as everything that preceded it.