Comedy play performed by UND students

Broadway play adapted to undersized Burtness Theatre, actors perform well


Students Jacqueline Degraff and Zack lee perform “Rumors.” Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald

Gun shots, police officers and rumors changed the plans of friends celebrating a 10th wedding anniversary on Tuesday in Neil Simon’s comedy “Rumors” performed by UND Theatre.

The play was adapted drastically from its performances in other theatres to fit the Burtness Theatre’s small stage. Normally the couch is located next to the chairs with a staircase behind them, but the Burtness stage looked too small for the original idea of the set.

In this set, the couch was set in front of two chairs and a table which made conversation between the actors confusing.

Fortunately, this was the only thing I didn’t like about the whole performance, which wasn’t the theatre’s fault, but more the size of the stage.

In the beginning of the show, characters Chris Gorman (Emily Wirkus) and Ken Gorman (Matt Trujillo) were dressed in over-the-top, flashy outfits that matched their over-exaggerated personalities and the tone of the show.

Chris starts the first scene by waiting for a call from the doctor, because the host of the dinner party, Charley, shot himself in the ear moments before Chris and Ken arrived.

They assumed Charley was trying to commit suicide. However, they didn’t know the truth because Charley was passed out, Charley’s wife Myra was missing and “the help” had also disappeared.

Characters Claire Ganz (Jaqueline Degraff) and Lenny Ganz (Zack Lee) were the next guests to arrive and were dressed just as glamorously and over the top as the first couple.

However, before they arrived at the party, they were in a car accident that resulted in Lenny having whiplash and Claire having a sore back the whole night.

Chris and Ken failed at hiding Charley’s incident from Claire and Larry and the couples began spreading rumors that Myra was having an affair, and that’s why Charley tried to kill himself.

Cookie Cusack (Daniella Lima) and Ernie Cusack (Joe Bussey) were the third couple to arrive and were definitely the oddest.

The final couple to arrive was Cassie Cooper (Jackie O’Neil) and Glenn Cooper (Patrick Kloeckner). These characters portrayed the stereotypical jealous wife and the “it didn’t mean anything” husband.

Near the end of the show, the suicide attempt was known to all four couples. Myra was still missing, Charley was still passed out and the police showed up at Charley and Myra’s house to ask questions about Lenny and Claire’s car accident.

Officer Welch (Brandon Wetch) and Officer Pudney (Hannah Diers) started asking questions, and Lenny came out disguised as Charley and told them a fake gunshot story that he had made up.

Larry’s story started with Charley trying to shoot at a strange man at their door and Myra going into the basement. He then said he had accidentally locked her in there but passed out because he took Valium on accident.

Officer Welch believed the crazy story and left. The couples then remained questioning the whole thing when all of a sudden they hear Myra calling out from the basement.

That is where the show ended, with the audience wondering how Larry knew the real truth of what had happened.

The UND Theatre puts on several shows a year, but “Rumors” was the first I have attended, and I was surprised by how entertaining the show was throughout.

It only cost $5 for students, which was a great deal for how humorous the play was. I could only assume the audience agreed with me, with the amount of laughter going on the whole night.

I would give the performers  four out of five stars. While the acting and story was entertaining and engaging, the set was distracting and confusing.

Misti Meads is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]