A dinner party is only as simple as you make it, and to the characters in the Corinth Holders High School production of “Rumors,” nothing is simple.
The Neil Simon play deals in the gulf between truth and assumption, swirling infidelity, pride and confusion around in the finest crystal stemware. The result is a zany but sophisticated farce the Corinth Holders drama department will bring to audiences for three performances Feb. 9-11.
In picking the play, Corinth Holders drama teacher Kathi Nixon said she wanted to do a production that would let a talented senior class shine.
“I have a class of mostly seniors taking drama and these guys are just really funny,” Nixon said.
“Rumors” deals in exactly that, the leaps our imaginations take when the plain truths are just too dull. The play begins with a bang, literally, as Charlie Brock, the deputy mayor of New York City, has shot himself, possibly by accident, possibly on purpose. Charlie and his wife, Myra, are throwing a dinner party to celebrate their 10th anniversary, and guests begin arriving one by one just after the gunshot.
The 10-character play has four couples and two police officers who show up at the end. The friends of the deputy mayor come from the general aristocracy: lawyers, cooks on TV, socialites and politicians, but dignified might not be the right word to describe them, especially after a few drinks.
“They’re all a bunch of rich people who are supposed to be well composed, but here we are in one big house and everybody is acting crazy,” said Dylan Hogg, who plays Officer Ben Welch.
Nixon noted that the play is fairly adult and has been toned down somewhat for the Corinth Holders stage. Despite having hig school students play movers and shakers in New York City, Nixon said teenagers are actually perfect for a play with so much misdirection.
“One thing they didn’t have trouble with, because they’re the age they are and I’ve been teaching them for like a million years, the part where they’re hiding their lie, they’re really good at that,” she said.
The juiciest rumors, the actors said, involved possible affairs and gunshots, but eventually all the characters get tripped up in their own versions of the truth.
“It’s very fast paced, everything is just going on at once so it’s really just hectic on every character,” said Tiffany Ryals, who plays Claire Ganz. “Every character has something else going on; we all have our own issues, but it plays together.”
“One person hears one thing and the other person hears another, and so when you get everyone together, the lies start surfacing,” said Kaelyn Edwards, who plays Chris Gorman, an attorney.
“And I don’t hear anything at all,” said Zach Yarborough, who plays Ken Gorman, another attorney, who is deaf for most of the play because another gunshot goes off near his head.
The cast said they enjoyed taking on a play like “Rumors,” where the dialogue is fast paced and witty and where there’s no real lead.
“When someone asks, ‘Oh, are you the main character?’, I say I am, but so is literally everyone else,” Edwards said.
Nixon’s father went to the old Corinth Holders school in the 1950s, when all grades were under one roof. Back then, he told her, Corinth put a lot of pride in its drama program and stood out on the stage among other schools in the area. Now, seven years since the new high school opened, Nixon hopes to once again make drama a hallmark of Corinth Holders. The program now includes students who hope to make acting a career.
“Acting for me is something I’ve always enjoyed because I like to influence emotions in different people and see their reactions to things,” said Hannah Meadows, who will pursue theater at the Savannah College of Art and Design next year. “It’s always fun to see them after you’ve performed and they want to talk to you and talk about your role. You can influence people with something that you’ve done.”
Others said high school drama has simply made them feel like better people.
“I feel like theater has developed me more as a person,” said Morgan Bush. “It’s made me more confident. Before I could talk in front of a small group, but I remember the first time I had to speak in front of a class, I was terrified. But now I’ve been doing it for three years now, I can go in front of an auditorium and just say what I have to say.”
The class seemed to agree that the theater program had had the biggest influence on Alex Watson, who is doing sound and lighting for “Rumors.” He said he’d always had an interest in drama and used to write plays he and his friends would perform on his front lawn. But when he reached high school, he became shy.
“I had really bad social anxiety when I started high school, and now this year I was up here and helped do a play and do monologues in front of large groups of people,” Watson said.
“Rumors” will play at 7 p.m. Feb. 9-11 in the Corinth Holders High School auditorium. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door.
The cast of ‘Rumors’
Zach Yarborough as Ken Gorman.
Kaelyn Edwards as Chris Gorman.
Glenn Reardon as Glenn Cooper.
Morgan Bush as Cassie Cooper.
Andre Louder as Lenny Ganz.
Tiffany Ryals as Claire Ganz.
Hannah Meadows as Cookie Cusack.
Scott Young as Ernie Cusack.
Dylan Hogg as Officer Ben Welch.
Austen Burnside as Officer Pudney.
Lights and sound: Alex Watson.