Bloomington Youth Theater’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” premiered Nov. 17 and runs through Nov. 19 at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.
After characters discover the hostess of a dinner party is missing and the host has shot himself in the ear, they attempt to feign normalcy, despite the increasingly odd events that happen over the course of the night.
“It’s more that they’re trying to keep the truth hidden, they’re telling a lot of lies,” said Sebastian Russell, high school senior, director and actor playing Ken. “This is one of the most hilarious shows that Neil Simon has written, and in general.”
When gunfire sounds offstage, the high-strung attorney Ken comes on stage and tells the other characters a manhole cover just exploded, temporarily losing his hearing as a result. He mishears nearly everything said afterwards, mistakening a ringing phone for a hiding cat.
“Disorder,” Russell said. “There’s a lot of disorder. I don’t want to say nonsense, because it’s all happening for a reason, but it kind of seems like nonsense in a way.”
As more characters arrive to the dinner party, the lies regarding the hosts' absence become more and more convoluted.
“There’s a lot more crude humor than other shows we’ve done,” Russell said. “The characters are a really big selling point for me, because they’re all really different.”
Cookie is a cooking show host with back problems who often resorts to crawling around the stage to alleviate her pain. Glenn and Cassie are a couple running for the state senate with problems regarding fidelity. Their shouting matches cease and become casual conversations when other characters enter the scene.
Bloomington Youth Theater, originally Solarium Productions, is a non-profit youth theater group composed of students between grades nine and 12.
Created in 2015, the group’s first show was “Alice in Wonderland” performed at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. “Rumors” will be its fifth staged production.
“You can hang out with your peers but also be a part of something bigger,” said Nicholas Braun, high school student and stage manager. “We try to help teach those who aren’t as experienced as others.”
This production cycle for “Rumors” began in July, when Braun and Russell decided they wanted to do a comedy for older audiences, Russell said. Braun and his father built the set and the cast of high schoolers transported it to the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center on Nov. 12.
All proceeds from “Rumors” will go towards Rhino’s Youth Center. In the past, Bloomington Youth Theater has donated its proceeds to Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington.
For some actors, this is their first opportunity for performance, Russell said.
“Community theater is a great thing to explore,” Russell said. “If there weren’t community theaters, I don’t know if any of us could get a chance of doing what we’re doing.”
Bloomington Youth Theater plans to produce John Scoullar’s play “The Little Prince” in the spring.
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