Neil Simon’s “Rumors” takes some shots at the country club set. The neurotic characters — eight of them —create combustible laughter in his riotous 1988 comedy, the playwright’s first farce.

The rehearsal schedule is really, really condensed. In all, the cast had fewer than seven rehearsals to bring Neil Simon’s “Rumors” up to scratch for the performances set for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19-20 at Marathon Community Theatre.

But the audience shouldn’t fear. It’s coming together quite nicely!

“We had two weeks from ‘git to go,’” said director Devin Clarke. “Everybody in the cast is very talented, and I feel very comfortable. For once, actually, I’m not worried.”

Any breaks the actors took from rehearsal were to ease their aching sides.

“This play is hysterical,” said Abby Haddock, who plays Chris. “The first couple of read-throughs we had to stop because we could not stop breaking character for laughing.”

The play is a farce about the deputy mayor of New York City, who accidentally shoots himself in the ear. Apparently. Since he doesn’t regain consciousness (or appear on stage), that’s a guess. But the ensuing farce of arriving guests who try to keep the secret from one another, and then layer the situation with lies, and then attempt to keep track of the falsehoods, makes for a lively pace.

“The opening scene is a really rapid-fire, what’s-going-on situation,” said Haddock. “My character is panicking, trying to keep everything undercover. There’s truths, lies and cover ups.”

Because this is a reading, the stage setting is sparse — groups of furniture indicate the different rooms of the deputy mayor’s house. (In a normal production, the set would be a sort of “doll house” where the audience could peer into the separate spaces.) But the costuming is rich — think evening gowns and tuxedos. And, the actors move around the stage.

“It’s a little more dynamic than a typical, static stage reading,” said Clarke.

This is not Haddock’s first appearance on the stage. In fact, her first role at MCT was a reading of another Neil Simon play — “Barefoot in the Park.” Oh, and the man who plays her opposite this role, Dale Coburn, was also her husband in that show.

“It’s the second time we’ve been married,” Haddock said, laughing. “Oh, and in ‘Cabaret’ I was dating his wife. We’re keeping it all in the family.”

Haddock said the quick-paced nature of the rehearsals made for a very tight-knit ensemble and what promises to be a good night for the audience.

“The time crunch really focused us. Our rehearsal (Tuesday), sounded like we’ve been practicing for months,” she said.

The show is set for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19-20 with curtain at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door or by calling the box office at 305-394-1588.

Cast

  • Chris – Abby Haddock
  • Ken – Dale Coburn
  • Claire – Trish Hintze
  • Lenny – John Schaefer
  • Cookie – Jennifer Powell
  • Ernie – Jerry Nussenblatt
  • Glenn – John Keller
  • Cassie – Kara Pascucci
  • Officer Welch – Morgan Walker
  • Officer Pudney – Kelly Jacobs

The show is directed by Devin Clarke and produced by Zulma Perez. Jim “Boomer” Kelly is in charge of the lights and Norma Jean Kelly is handling the sound.

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