The University of Southern Mississippi will bring Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon’s comedic “Rumors” to the Martha R. Tatum Theatre stage beginning Friday, Feb. 24. Presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance, the play will run through March 4.
The storyline finds the deputy mayor of New York City, Charlie Brock, having just shot himself at his anniversary celebration, with four couples gathered for the event attempting to get “the story” of the event straight before other guests arrive. As the confusions and miscommunications mount, the evening spins into a hilarious farce in classic Simon style.
“The cast has been incredible,” said “Rumors” director Joe Hernandez of Destin, Fla., who is a third year MFA student in theatre with an emphasis in directing. ‘They’ve taken these characters and brought them to life.”
MFA student Chase Byrd of Franklin, N.C. plays Lenny Ganz, one of the anniversary party guests, along with wife Claire Ganz, portrayed by senior performance major Kira Lyon of Petal, Miss. The couple was in a car wreck on their way to the party, with Lenny complaining of whiplash and Claire having suffered a cut lip. Their roles enhance the zany twists and turns of the play. “It (Rumors) shows us how people look outside the door and then inside, and then when pushed to their limits,” Byrd said.
“High energy, funny, absolutely insane,” said Lyon in praise of “Rumors.” “The façade aspect of the play comes off when the pressure is on,” she continued in describing the action, while adding that the cast and audience are “safe in a good playwright’s hands.”
Stephen Judd, professor of scenic design and head of the MFA program in design/technology, serves as scenic designer for “Rumors.” Other members of the cast and crew include Benjamin Norman, lighting designer, a first year MFA lighting design student from New Orleans; Kerry Brown-Richards, costume designer, a first year MFA costume design student from New Orleans; Andrew Bledsoe, sound designer of Tupelo, Miss.; Cordie Nelson, stage manager, a senior from Moss Point, Miss.; Alex Piper, a second year MFA in performance student from Cullman, Ala.; Rebecca Yeager, a second year MFA in performance student from Birmingham, Ala. ; Kendall Kiker, a second year MFA in performance student from Florence, S.C.; Lisa Fischel, a first year MFA in performance student from Las Vegas; Bennett Forrest, a performance student from Memphis; and Hayley Barnes, a senior performance major from Ocean Springs, Miss.
“Rumors” will be presented Feb. 24, 25, 29 and March 1, 2, and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 26 and March 4 at 2 p.m. The play includes strong language. Reserved seats are $12 for the public and $10 for faculty, staff, senior adults and military personnel; and $6 for students. For more information about the play, call the Department of Theatre and Dance at 601.266.4494; for information about tickets, call 601.266.5418 or 800.844.8425.