Nancy Sasso Janis
The Waterbury Arts Theatre Department is presenting the Neil Simon play ‘Rumors’ this weekend at Waterbury’s Palace Theater, the magnificent venue attached to the Waterbury Arts Magnet School (WAMS) campus.
For the last five years, the department has incorporated into their season an annual production that highlights the best of their senior class before the students graduate from the magnet school. This year, the faculty also decided to showcase other aspects of the multi-talented class of 2016, including featured performances from the senior dancers, musicians and singers in addition to the visual artists.
So at the well-attended opening night performance of ‘Rumors’ there was an extended dance sequence immediately following the intermission. The senior dancers, led by Dance Captain Shelby Griffin, danced to “Music for 16 Cellos” and “Optimist” both composed by Keating. In the lobby of the Palace, Myles LaBare performed on piano, Adriana Taplin, Noemi Meca and Lucas Savage sang individual numbers, and visual artists Audrey Giordano, Jane Morrison and Kevin Coelho had their work on display.
‘Rumors’ concerns a group of friends gathering at the home of the Deputy Mayor of New York to celebrate his tenth wedding anniversary. However, when the first guests arrive, they find the Mayor has been shot (just a flesh wound) and his wife, as well as all the domestic help, are missing. As each new couple arrives, they enter into a plan to keep things out of the headlines, and the Rumors start to fly.
WAMS faculty member Scott Schulte directed the talented group of just ten senior students and thanked in the program his fellow members of the theatre department and the school administration for their extensive help in making this show look and sound spectacular…and it definitely does. The large set that fills the Palace stage was designed by Mr. Steven Sudell; it was both modern and functional and included the requisite six doors and staircase. Featured artist Audrey Giordano did the original paintings that decorated the walls of the set. Michael Esposito designed the flawless sound and Mr. Charles Machokas did the technical lighting design. The costumes for this odd dinner party were designed by Jillian Mulligan with the help of advisor Ms. Nancy Muro. The ladies (even Cookie) were glittery in their formal wear and the guys were in well-fitting suits.
The students did a fine job with the cast of characters in this sharp and witty farce. Katherine Ross played the lovely Chris Gorman and Liam Alldredge was able to use his wonderful comic timing in the role of her husband Ken. Alyana Gonzalez was the feisty Claire Ganz and Chris Briney (who had the leading role in ‘I, Don Quixote’ last year) was again brilliant as her husband Lenny. Emma Lewis had a lot of fun with the role of Cookie Cusack and Antonio Teixeira played her adoring husband Ernie.
Rounding out the couples was the marvelous Jayde Blanchette in the role of Cassie Cooper, whose politician-husband Glenn was played to perfection by Nolan Cummings. Tori Santiago played the role of police officer Jen Welch and Enis Arslan’s understudy played police officer Conner Pudney. Ms. Mecca served as the show’s emcee along with Ryan Rinaldi.
All of the members of the senior class contributed to making this a very funny and professional looking production that I very much enjoyed. Despite the fact that I have seen all of these actors grow up on the WAMS stages, I quickly forgot that they are still in their teens as they performed this very grown up and sophisticated farce. I will miss seeing them at WAMS productions next year and wish them all the best of luck in the future.
Upcoming WAMS Theatre events include ‘The Big Knife’ on the WAMS Apron Stage, ‘Grand Hotel’ and ‘Twelfth Night’ at the Apron Stage. I hope to attend all three.
‘Rumors’ continues on Saturday Nov. 14 at 7:00pm and Sunday Nov. 15 at 2:00pm at the Palace. Tickets are $10 students and $12 adults for general admission. The show is rated PG-13 for mild language.
Photo of members of the cast of 'Rumors' by Jennifer Cummings