Spreading 'Rumors'

Old Opera House opens season with Neil Simon farce

Old Opera House opens season with Neil Simon farce

February 07, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Old Opera House Theatre Company is happy to start "Rumors."

Not rumors, as in gossip, but "Rumors," the Neil Simon farce.

"Rumors" will open 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, and continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, Feb. 17, at Old Opera House.

The play is about four couples who meet for a wedding anniversary celebration only to find the host has been shot. The first guests on the scene try to cover it up, but the heap of lies they create gets harder and harder to keep straight.

"Rumors" is the first play Kevin C. Robertson, a stage combat choreographer from Gainesville, Va., has directed for Old Opera House. It is also his first time directing a Neil Simon play.


Robertson said he has a little more creative freedom since "Rumors" has never been made into a movie and isn't quite as popular as some other Neil Simon plays, giving audiences less to compare his production to.

"They'll come out because it's Neil Simon," Robertson said.

Because the play is a farce, Robertson sought actors who could nail comedic timing and who already had lots of chemistry among them.

Enter actress Ashley Hall, of Frederick, Md., who has been performing at Old Opera House for the past 10 years and has previously worked with six of the 10 actors cast in "Rumors."

Cast as Cassie Cooper, Hall plays a rich, nagging wife who suspects her husband Glenn (Homer Speaker) is having an affair.

"It's very easy to slip into her skin ... We've all had those moments where we're like, 'Oh my God, is he cheating?'" Hall said.

Hall is also helping out with wardrobe. "Rumors" is set in the late '80s or early '90s, not exactly a high point in fashion. To keep the clothes from outperforming the actors, Hall took wardrobe cues from the late Princess Diana.

"She was a fashion icon," Hall said.

New to acting in "Rumors" is Christine Brewer, wife of Steven Brewer, show producer and Old Opera House executive director. Christine Brewer can hardly be described as new to theater. She saw "Rumors" on Broadway in the late '80s and has since seen her husband produce it.

Brewer will play her first major role, after taking a year off from acting to have her first child. One-year-old Caroline joins mommy and daddy on set for rehearsals, the reason a baby gate was resting on the orchestra pit during a recent dress rehearsal. Will baby Caroline grow up to be an actress?

"She's a ham. She doesn't have a choice," Brewer said. "But knowing our luck, she'll probably end up playing soccer."

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WHAT: "Rumors," a Neil Simon farce presented by Old Opera House Theatre Company

WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays, Feb. 8 and 15, and Saturdays, Feb. 9 and 19; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 10 and 17.

WHERE: Old Opera House, 204 N. George St., Charles Town, W.Va.

COST: $16 Fridays and Saturdays; $14, Sundays. $8 for students attending any show.

MORE: The play contains some adult language. For tickets, call Old Opera House, 304-725-4420. More information is at

Cast list for "Rumors,"
directed by Kevin Robertson and produced by Steven Brewer

Chris Gorman ... Christine Brewer

Ken Gorman ... Pat Markland

Claire Ganz ... Meaghan Barry

Lenny Ganz ... Will Heyser

Ernie Cusack ... Bill Francis

Cookie Cusack ... Winky Francis

Glenn Cooper ... Homer Speaker

Cassie Cooper ... Ashley Hall

Officer Welch ... Martha B. Louden

Officer Pudney ... Marianne Tomasic

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