RUMORS, the Neil Simon Comedy, Opens at Lakewood Theatre Company, 3/8-4/13


Neil Simon's name is synonymous with comedy, comedy-drama, as well as musical theatre. Rumors, however, falls into another category - farce. In Simon's memoirs, The Play Goes On, he describes how he came to write Rumors.

"Having just finished a dark examination of my parents, of their broken promises and lost love, I wanted to erase those bitter thoughts from my mind and spend a year enjoying myself. A trip around the world would have been a good solution, but I had a different yearning. I wanted to laugh and to make audiences laugh. I chose to write a farce, not realizing that technically speaking, writing a good farce may be the hardest undertaking in a writer's career.

At the first reading in San Diego at The Old Globe, we knew we were funny. But not funny enough. We thought we had enough complications in the play until you realize that in a farce enough is never enough. At the final curtain, the audience must be as spent as the actors, who by now are on oxygen support. If the audience is only wheezing with laughter, you need rewrites or actors with stronger lungs." While rewriting the play in San Diego, Simon discovered it became like a huge animal that needed constant feeding.

"There were so many plot points that needed clarifying, so many scenes that needed a new concept, so many lines that weren't as sharp as they could be and so many actors who had to be made happy for fear that someone else was getting bigger laughs than they were," said Simon. Once all was said and done, Rumors turned out to be very successful. The critics carped, praised, cheered, smeared, loved, loathed, liked and disliked it enormously. But, the audiences overwhelmingly loved it. According to Simon, "I juggled several balls in the air at the same time and the play runs on today almost everywhere."

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