Arts & Entertainment

Prov Players Promise Laughs With Simon Farce ‘Rumors’

The comedy flows as mishaps multiply and rumors abound in the Providence Players production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” Pictured above, from left to right, are actors Don Myers, Andra Whitt (standing), Beth Hughes-Brown, Craig Geoffrion, and Charlene Sloan. (Photo: Chip Gertzog, Providence Players)
The comedy flows as mishaps multiply and rumors abound in the Providence Players production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” Pictured above, from left to right, are actors Don Myers, Andra Whitt (standing), Beth Hughes-Brown, Craig Geoffrion, and Charlene Sloan. (Photo: Chip Gertzog, Providence Players)

When she saw an open audition for “Rumors” back in 1995, Liz Mykietyn hadn’t even heard of the play. But the lifelong actress – she landed her first role at 6 months old – auditioned for a production, got a role, and fell in love with the show. It was then that the ambition took hold, and the thought stuck in her head: “I want to direct this one day.”

Now, nearly 20 years and scores of productions later, Mykietyn is finally making the dream a reality in her Providence Players directorial debut with a summer production of “Rumors.”

The Neil Simon farce centers on a high society party gone awry. Guests have been invited to the home of New York City’s deputy mayor and his wife, to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. When the party-goers arrive, however, they discover he’s suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the earlobe and she’s nowhere to be found. In an effort to keep up appearances, the subterfuge begins. The well-to-do guests scheme and conceal, trying to stop salacious word from spreading (and trying to remember what lies they’ve told), and the situation spirals hilariously out of control.

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Simply put, it’s a funny play; Mykietyn thinks it’s Simon’s dialogue that gets audiences laughing. They may never have attended a party with one host maimed and one host missing, but Mykietyn believes that audience members can relate to perpetrating a cover-up and having it unravel – and when the characters react in this out-of-the-ordinary situation, it’s an understandable, human reaction. Audiences will recognize these characters’ flaws, Mykietyn says, either in themselves or in someone they know.

“It’s just a matter of laughing at ourselves, deep down,” Mykietyn said.

When producing such a popular Neil Simon piece, one that’s been staged time and again, Mykietyn says it’s a challenge to offer a fresh take on the farce. For that she calls upon her experience as a comedic actress. Mykietyn has been with the Providence Players since 2005, and since then has taken on acting roles in their comedic productions such as “Good Help is So Hard to Murder,” “Harvey,” and most recently “Is He Dead?” Playing Truvy in their spring 2008 staging of “Steel Magnolias” remains to this day her favorite role.

Her acting background informs the way she directs. It gives her insights into her actors’ experience as they prepare to present “Rumors.” She’s even acted alongside some of them in other Providence Players productions. As a product of her comedy experience, she likes to add physicality to her productions – to give her actors a fun opportunity to enliven their characters with some over-the-top gestures or other types of farce-friendly behavior. These efforts all work toward a single goal, to entertain. And Mykietyn hopes that her production of “Rumors” will do just that.

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“That’s all I want,” Mykietyn said. “I just want to make people laugh.”

“Rumors” runs May 30 – June 14. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on June 1 and 8. The play will be performed at The James Lee Community Center Theater, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $17 for students and seniors. For more information, visit providenceplayers.org or call 703-425-6782.

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