Canbrake Players pick ‘Rumors’

Published 6:41 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rumor has it the Canebrake Players have selected their spring production. Rumor also has it that more than a dozen people showed up for auditions. Then there are those rumors that the final product will be uproariously funny.

At least, that is the hope of the show’s director, Laurie Wilingham, who will bring to life the Neil Simon play, Rumors.

“It’s hilariously funny for one thing,” Willingham said of one of the things she finds most appealing about the work. “It’s fast-paced. It’s going to have some really elegant costumes and I like that idea.”

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Rumors was almost the Canebrake’s choice for its 2011 spring production until Dearly Departed, a much darker comedy, edged out the Simon favorite.

“I have been in several Neil Simon productions myself,” Willingham said.

“I had heard about this. It was a toss-up last spring whether we did this one or Dearly Departed. I kept gravitating back to this one.”

A farcical play that first opened on Broadway in 1988, Rumors features four socialite couples who attend a dinner party at the mayor’s home only to find the servants absent, the hostess missing and the mayor with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the ear. Given their societal status, the group decides it best to conceal the evening’s happenings from the police and the media, setting the stage for a blunderful mystery full of mishaps.

“We lean toward the comedies because life is difficult enough as it is,” Willingham said of the Canebrake Players’ recent tendency toward comedies. “We have done some very serious dramas in the spring. We try to do a great play in the spring and save the musicals for the summer production. We tend to have more of a cast we can draw from in the summer with school being out.”

Willingham is also hopeful the content of Rumors is familiar fodder for local show goers.

“I think everyone can relate to this as well because we all live in a small town and it is really easy for rumors to get started,” Willingham said.

The play’s setting is unspecific in terms of time, allowing Willingham and the cast to put their own spin on it. As such, Willingham said this rendition of the show will be set in modern day.

Auditions for the play were Monday evening with some 17 people throwing their name into the hat for parts. Willingham, who has yet to finish the cast list, will select 10 of those individuals.

The production, which will take place from April 13 through April 16 with a dress rehearsal on April 12, is the first adult-oriented show Willingham has done.

“This is my first time to direct an adult production, so I am a little nervous,” she said, “but I am very excited.”