'Rumors' set to open at Stage Door Dinner Theatre

February 26, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

The ringing of hammers, smell of fresh paint, last-minute lighting cues and actors prowling the set looking for their marks.

It's all part of what looks to an outsider like a run for the lifeboats on the Titanic, but actually is a dress rehearsal for Stone Road Productions' latest play, "Rumors."

The play opens tomorrow evening at the Stage Door Dinner Theatre, at Wilhelm Limited Caterers, formerly Friendly Farm restaurant, on Route 140, Westminster.

This fast-paced Neil Simon comedy unites some very objectionable friends at a 10th wedding anniversary party, where the host and hostess, Charley and Myra Brock, never appear.

Charley is the deputy mayor of New York City. Myra has taken a lover, Glenn Cooper, who just happens to be a guest at the party with his wife.

The Brocks bring their friends together for an evening of celebration that turns into a disaster when the host tries to commit suicide and his wife leaves with the servants.

What quickly develops is a classic cover-up farce, in which everybody tries to hide their knowledge of what happened to whom and when.

On the guest list are a husband and wife who are lawyers; a financial planner whose wife's main concern is saving her husband from IRS burnout; an analyst, who has group meetings by telephone; and his cooking-show-hostess wife, whose main method of getting attention is her chronic back problems.

This wonderful collection of public nuisances is rounded out with an ambitious poseur who just happens to be a candidate for the New York state Senate and his dippy crystal-stroking, seductress wife, dressed in a leather skirt that is just legally wearable. She knows that her husband is cheating on her.

The resultant chaos takes the audience for a romp through the yuppie social and sexual mores of Westchester County, N.Y., where the action takes place in the country home of the never-seen Brocks.

These characters whine about cars, taxes and the servant problem. At times, they sound as if they're attending congressional confirmation hearings for the post of attorney general.

"This show is Neil Simon at his wittiest," said Sandy Murphy, the show's director and production consultant.

And the actors make good on those wonderful lines.

Roger Buchanan, who works at Sheppard Pratt Hospital by day, plays the dyspeptic Lenny Ganz, who bursts on the stage complaining about whiplash and sobbing over his new BMW, which has just been in an accident:

"I've had three audits today, my car now has four doors on one side, and I look like a Modigliani painting."

"They have been rehearsing three times a week since December," said Paula Langmead, who runs the lights, works props and is on call for whatever needs to be done.

Most of the company is from Carroll County, but some of the actors and the director, Sandy Murphy, live in or near Baltimore.

The show features the quick comic pacing and outstanding ensemble work of such local favorites as Denae Chandler, Joan Crooks, John Ford, Cathy James, Harry Langmead, Leigh Ann Reger, Stacy Shaffer and Stan Ziolkowski.

"These folks are as funny off-stage as on," said Sandy Murphy.

In one of those moments when the lights unexpectantly went dark, the cast, sitting on stage, said, "Shall we run lines?" -- taking advantage of keeping the energy up and the show on the road.

Last-minute emergencies included a torn costume that was the wrong size anyway, a doorbell that didn't ring on cue and other technical glitches.

Just then, the most popular thing on the set was duct tape, that indispensable ingredient for holding shows together.

The show will run Saturdays and Sundays Feb. 27 through March 28. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with dinner served at 7 p.m. and the show at 8:15 p.m. On Sundays, doors open at noon, with dinner served at 12:30 and the show at 1:30 p.m. The cost is $26 per ticket, with group discounts available. For information and reservations, call (410) 876-6810 or (410) 795-4453.

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