Rumors by Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, PA
March 12, 2019
Review submitted by Patrick McCann of Harriton High School
Rumor has it that the Belfry Club of Germantown Academy is putting on a farcical comedy, and that it is every bit as frantic, chaotic, and hilariously messy as any farce enthusiast could hope for!
Rumors, a farcical comedy by Neil Simon, premiered in 1988 at the Old Globe Theatre. While the basic premise, a 10-year anniversary party for state deputy Charlie Brock and his wife Myra, is rather ordinary, the whole thing is turned on its head when the firsts two guests (Chris and Ken Gorman) arrive only to find Charlie drugged up on Valium and with a gunshot wound in his earlobe. Hilarious chaos ensues as they struggle to hide Charlie’s state from the other arriving guests, making for a riotous night of misfortunes and mishaps as the four invited couples experience a severe attack of farce.
The cast’s commitment to the physicality farce requires is what truly made the performance great. Whether they were embodying cats, mimicking children, or dancing furiously to “La Bamba”, they always managed to elicit big laughs from the audience without ever letting the show’s ridiculous comedy veer into the area of unbelievability.
Vinit Joshi, who played the sarcastic and unfortunately whiplashed Lenny, was one of the show’s many highlights. His line delivery and comedic timing were masterful, and all while holding his head at a 45-degree angle! In the second act, he held the audience’s attention for an entire seven-minute monologue, effortlessly ducking in and out of different accents and inflections. Naomi Friedman, playing the elegant, if a bit high strung, Chris, was a delight to watch. Her mannerisms, from sniffing cigarettes to scratching the hives in her armpits, were both consistent and hilarious.
Danny Ritz left the audience in stitches as the endearing attorney Ken. Whether he was rubbing his body against a wall or embodying animals, his acting choices always left the audience roaring with laughter. Alex Kafrissen was another highlight of the show as the saucy gossip-monger Claire, perfectly delivering all of her dry one-liners. Michael Wood convincingly played Ernie, transitioning from likable dopiness to hilarious rage. Finally, J. Fassler helped ground the show’s ending in reality, providing a great counterpoint to the rest of the cast’s ridiculousness with their straight-talking portrayal of Officer Welch.
The show’s simple but effective light and sound cues were a nice touch, informing the audience of car arrivals when the actors didn’t explicitly say so and surprising them with a gunshot in the first act.
Just as rumors tend to grow over time, the hysterical chaos of Germantown Academy’s production snowballed throughout the performance, delivering brilliant physical and verbal comedy that wanted nothing but to make the audience laugh.
Review submitted by Anji Cooper of Academy of the New Church
A simple word spoken in passing can spread like wildfire, gaining momentum as it travels from one listening ear to the next, transforming into something larger, something more treacherous. Gossip can be dangerous, disastrous even, but Germantown Academy turned it into a chaotically hilarious debacle in their production of Rumors.
Neil Simon’s farce opened on Broadway in 1988. The story follows four couples: the Gormans, Ganzes, Cusacks and Coopers as they arrive at the tenth anniversary party for Charlie Brock, Deputy Mayor of New York, and his wife, Myra. Yet, the party does not go as expected. Charlie has shot himself in the earlobe, Myra is missing, and all the household staff is gone. With Charlie’s prestigious position, the Gormans try to cover up the apparent suicide attempt to avoid the malicious rumors and legal ramifications of his actions. More guests arrive, and more lies are added to the tangled web as the couples pricelessly attempt to hide the truth from each other and eventually even the police.
Germantown Academy’s rendition of Rumors was uproarious and energetic, fueled by enthusiastic and committed actors diving into their escapades. Combining physical comedy with ridiculous antics and well-placed expletives, the show never ceased to keep its audience in stitches.
The entire cast was engaging and full of spirit, completely falling into their roles, speaking naturally, and making their characters feel genuine and real. The actors impressively projected their voices without microphones. Duo Chris (Naomi Friedman) and Ken Gorman (Danny Ritz) possessed engrossing stage presence and worked off of each other’s energy. Ritz’s exaggerated movements added humor, especially when portraying temporary deafness, while his sensitive side after being yelled at had the crowd aww-ing in sympathy. Lenny Ganz (Vinit Joshi) proved his talent and commitment through magnified expressions and reactions to the absurd lies, punctuated by occasional acrobatics. His vigorous, frenzied and long-winded description of “what really happened” drew heaps of laughter from the audience. Alex Kafrissen played the high-class gossip queen, Claire Ganz, to perfection. With her haughty air and petty, demanding attitude, the crowd couldn’t help but root for her. Though some lines were lost in the audience’s laughter, overall the cast exhibited precise comedic timing.
The set, designed and built by the Technical and Advanced Technical Theater Classes, painted the picture of a chic, classy and expensive apartment building, hinting at the show’s ambiance before it began. Dylan Robertson’s lighting heightened the production with small details such as car headlights appearing through a window.
Germantown Academy’s production of Rumors was hilarious and vibrant, brought to life by an animated cast and reminding the audience that the power of gossip, with its arising misunderstandings, is not to be underestimated.