More than 160 audience members were transported to 1980s high society New York in the Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Theatre and Dance production of Neil Simon's "Rumors" at the Rust Flexible Theatre at the River Campus on Wednesday night. The performance, which is intended for adult audiences, opened a five-day run and is the final play at the River Campus this season.
The play is set at a dinner party in 1988 New York City and involves four wealthy couples. When the party's hosts fail to show up, the arriving guests try to figure out what is going on by using gossip and innuendo. As the play progresses, the characters become more outrageous in their presumptions and behaviors.
"It is a door-slamming farce," director Kenneth L. Stilson said.
While "Rumors" is a comedy, preparing for the show was no laughing matter. Stilson said he and the students have rehearsed for five weeks to perfect the play's timing and other nuances.
"It takes a lot of skill to do this comedy. It is deceivingly difficult," he said. He said the actors have to make the audience believe the play's outrageous characters and plot.
He said the students did well opening night and their performance boded well for the rest of the play's run.
Stilson said the audience seemed to appreciate the cast's efforts.
"People near me are literally coming out of their seat with laughter. The audience seems to be having a great time," Stilson said.
One audience member said she has never seen such a strong crowd reaction at a production before.
"I haven't been to a play where I have heard so many people laughing. I love it," said Marissa Wong of Imperial, Mo. Her sorority sister also enjoyed the play.
"It was constantly entertaining," said Ashley Carlson of Belleville, Ill. Both Wong and Carlson attended the performance to show their support for fellow sorority sisters and cast members Marissa Rapp and Abby Vatterott.
River Campus box office manager Ellen Farrow said tickets for Saturday night's performance are sold out, but there are limited tickets still available for the shows today, Friday and Sunday. "Rumors" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $13 and may be purchased by calling the River Campus box office at 651-2265. This play is intended for adult audiences and contains adult content, strong language, use of herbal cigarettes and gunshots.
Pertinent address: 518 S. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, MO