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What's all this about ╬Rumors'?

KEVIN B. KLAUS/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
The cast of "Rumors," from the bottom of the stairs: Spencer Dooley, Lori Lee Rogers, Bill Epstein, Lesley Abrams, Nathan Gross, Kate DelCastillo, Julia Tilly, and Nat Cassidy practice for their upcoming performances at the Maroney Theatre. The show will run until Sept. 14.
By Lindsey Muth
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 4, 2003

Pulitzer Prize winner Neil Simon can easily be listed among the funniest and most influential stage and screenwriters of the twentieth century. The humor in Simon's works is not only crisp, witty, and original, it's also, (gasp, pause, gasp again), really funny ¸ like, laugh out loud funny. Simon also manages to do what many writers of the stage are unable to do. He connects with a wide and even hip audience ¸ fans are not just show-tune singing drama geeks with music-note shaped pins on their velvet berets.

"Comedy that's honest about human nature is always relevant," said Nat Cassidy, a theater production senior who plays the character of Ken Gorman in Simon's play "Rumors."

Those who appreciate Simon's works include tv-watching, pop-culture loving, "Dude, Where's My Car?"-renting theatre dummies like you and me. In fact, odds are, if you're a Woody Allen or Larry David fan, you'll also find yourself drawn into the neurotic, comic, New York centered worlds created by Neil Simon.

While you're at it...

If you go to "Rumors" and love it, you may leave the theatre hungry for more of Simon's unique brand of humor. Or, if you can't attend the performance, that doesn't mean you have to be left out of all the fun. There are plenty of Neil Simon movies out there, ready to be rented and adored. Here's a list of just a few:
"Barefoot in the Park" (1967 with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford)
"The Odd Couple" (1968 with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon)
"The Out-of-Towners" (1970 with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis)
"The Lonely Guy" (1984 with Steve Martin)
"Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1986 with Jonathan Silverman)
"Biloxi Blues" (1988 with Matthew Broderick)

Beginning this week and running through Sept. 14, the Arizona Repertory Theatre is presenting Simon's play "Rumors." Rumors is a fast-paced, character-driven mystery centered around a high-society dinner party at which the hostess is inexplicably missing in action, the host has inexplicably shot himself in the ear, and the dinner guests are (somewhat) inexplicably caught up in a mess of lies and misunderstandings, all while they try to figure out just what is going on. And that's the simplified version of the story. The heart of the story is in the whirlwind dialogue between the 10 main characters, loaded with double-entendres that not only make you laugh, they also manage to emphasize a sweet little theme about the perils of self-involvement and the joy to be found in friends.

Nathan Gross, who plays Lenny Ganz, said the theme about friendship took root for the cast behind the scenes as well as in front of the curtain

"It's even more important that the cast work well together and trust each other. I'd say this is probably the best cast I've worked with, I genuinely like everyone."

Cassidy agrees.

"We laugh a lot, which makes things infinitely more fun," he said.

Many performers in the Arizona Repertory Theatre are UA students. The Theatre is actually a performance-oriented sort of training ground for UA's MFA and BFA students in the School of Theatre Arts. But don't get me wrong; these students are no amateurs. They are top-notch performers, and competition to even become a member of the Theatre is highly competitive. The Theatre has a history of putting on a wide variety of productions. In 2001 they presented "Steel Magnolias," along with "Rain Some Fish No Elephants" and "A Flea in Her Ear." Last year's line-up included "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."

"ART has a great season this year. ╬Rumors' is only one of many fantastic productions in the works," said Cassidy.

The play's director, Samantha K. Wyer is something of a local celebrity and an award-winning director. "Samantha is hands-down the best director I've ever worked with," said Gross.

Perhaps you've seen her work in the past. Wyer directed "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" for the Theatre last year. She also directs for The Arizona Theatre Company. "Proof," one of the productions she directed for the Arizona Theatre Company received acclaim for its run here. Her directing talents will be highly visible in "Rumors" as well.

You can see "Rumors" performed by the Arizona Repertory Theatre at the Marroney Theatre, Fine Arts Complex (which is on the southeast corner of Speedway and Park, behind the Arts building). Shows will run at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3-6, and Sept. 11-13. There are 1:30 p.m. matinees Sept. 7,13, and 14. Tickets are $15 for students, $20 for UA employees and senior citizens and $22 to the general public. For more information call the Fine Arts box office at 621-1162.

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