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Bloomington Youth Theater premieres “Rumors”

The "Rumors" cast has fun with group photos before rehearsal on Thursday. "Rumors” will run Nov. 17 through 19 at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. 

A theater group formed and run by high schoolers, Bloomington Youth Theater, is presenting its production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” Nov. 17 through 19 at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.

“Rumors” is set during the 10th anniversary dinner party of Charley and Myra Brock. However, as guests arrive, they discover that Myra is missing, and Charley has shot himself in the ear.

“Pretty much everything goes wrong,” said Sebastian Russell, director, high school senior and actor playing the character Ken. “It’s focused on the events of keeping lies and truths hidden. It's a farce. This is one of the most hilarious shows that Neil Simon has written.”

The way personalities come together and clash in the show is compelling, Russell said.

The character Ken, a lawyer, is at times sophisticated, and at times prone to moments of panic and fright. Other characters, such as Cookie, don’t have all their mental faculties in order, Russell said.

“Nothing about them is similar except that they are wealthy,” Russell said. “There is slapstick humor, but it’s a good play to watch if you’re looking for laughter but also depth.”

Bloomington Youth Theater, originally Solarium Productions, is a nonprofit youth theater group composed of students between grades eight and 12. Created in 2015, the group’s first show was “Alice in Wonderland” at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. “Rumors” will be its fifth production.

“It gives a place where peers and people who are younger can have a place to connect, be able to be themselves,” said Braun, stage manager and high school senior.

The production cycle began in July, when Braun and Russell decided they wanted to do a comedy for older audiences. Once they settled on “Rumors,” Braun and his father built the set, and the cast of students from Bloomington High School South transported it to the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center on Sunday.

“It’s cool because it’s kind of our first real set as an organization,” Russell said. “Our previous shows have been minimalistic. But this is our first set that has walls and an actual platform.”

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.

“We try to help them learn how to become better and what stuff they need to think about,” Braun said. “It’s also a great place to continue if an actor wants different experience, we can easily give them that.”

Bloomington Youth Theater offers a very supportive environment, Russell said.

“If people don’t want to act, if they want to do backstage and lights, and whatnot, we do all of it,” Russell said. “We’re pretty open. If someone can’t make something, we try to work it with them.”

Bloomington Youth Theater plans to produce John Scoullar’s play “The Little Prince” in the spring.

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