Neil Simon’s ‘Rumors’ Coming to Historic Palace Theatre

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Lenore Debellis and Garney Johnson as Claire and Lenny Ganz in Neil Simon’s “Rumors.”

By Connie Morrison —  Neil Simon has been called one of the greatest American writers. Beginning April 5 at The Palace Theatre in Cape Charles, local audiences can judge for themselves when GEAR (Global Exchange Arts Roundtable) presents his farcical play, “Rumors.”

The comedy is set at a dinner party during which nothing goes as planned, including gunshots, crashes, cover-ups, and the inevitable rumors that follow.

In a 1988 interview with the New York Times, Simon said farce is the most demanding genre to write. “It’s relentless,” he said, in terms of timing, plot twists, dialogue, and movement on stage. The characters’ keep information from each other, further complicating and fueling the plot.

In addition to a cast of local actors taking on the challenge of bringing “Rumors” to the Palace stage, GEAR sought Hampton Roads actors for the production, including Garney Johnson, Joel King, and Dave Hobbs. 

Johnson, in the lead role of Lenny Gantz, said he first encountered the playwright in high school.

“In high school I was the proud owner of ‘The Complete Works of Neil Simon’ and got to perform a scene from ‘The Odd Couple’ as Felix Unger in a play productions course, hoping I would one day get the opportunity to perform in a complete production of something written by Neil Simon,” he wrote in a tribute to Simon. “Having realized that goal twice already, I am now hoping to one day direct a Neil Simon play.”

The four show dates and times are Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 7, at 3 p.m., and Saturday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m.

The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available at the door, at Lemon Tree Gallery, or by phone.

For more information or to order by phone, call GEAR at 757-331-4327.