After a year of very little theater anywhere, the ORHS drama department is back and working hard to prepare for their production of the play Rumors.
The show will be performed on November 11th and 13th at 7:00pm, with an additional matinee on the 13th at 1:00pm. Tickets cost five dollars and can be reserved in advance here.
Rumors is a comedy which portrays the events of a dinner party for the Deputy Mayor of New York City’s wedding anniversary. The play begins with two of the party’s attendees attempting to cover up a tragedy that has befallen the Deputy Mayor. As the show continues, it hilariously shows how each of the guests try to hide this disaster from each other and eventually conspire together to conceal it from the police.
Alexander Eustace, the show’s director, says he chose Rumors as the fall play because “this is a show for everyone. I’ve never heard of someone who’s seen the show and didn’t at least find something of value. I think that it’s incredibly funny all on its own, but it also has a lot to say about American society and our norms and customs… I think it’s a really insightful look that also never fails to entertain.”
Eustace also “realized that after the last year and a half that everybody’s had, I think it would be good to lead with a laugh. I know that theater and events in general have been sorely lacking for the past few years because of present conditions. We got the opportunity to do the show, and I figured that we needed to pick something funny.” Additionally, Eustace himself has some experience with the show, as he played the character Ken Gorman in his freshman year of college.
The cast of the show is working hard to prepare for their performance. Rehearsals are every day after school, lasting from 3:00pm to 6:00pm in order to ensure everything works perfectly. At the beginning of the rehearsal process, which began three weeks into school, actors would be called into a few rehearsals per week to prepare individual scenes. As they got closer to the performance, the cast fully ran through the show every rehearsal for several weeks to make sure they had the play’s technicalities fully mastered before performing for an audience. Now in technical week, an extra two hours has been added to every rehearsal to ensure the show is ready for its performances this weekend. Rumors is a very technical show with entrances and exits that need to be very carefully orchestrated, says Eustace, so “it takes a lot of work to get that down perfectly.”
This hard work comes with the reward of a great time for the actors. Johanna Keravich (‘22), who plays the selfish and gossipy Claire Ganz, says that she and her castmates “always have fun interacting with each other and playing the characters… There’s always a lot of laughter happening backstage.”
Thi Udomprasert (‘22) agrees with this, saying, “rehearsals have been a lot of fun. The cast is all very accepting… spirits are pretty high, people are enjoying their parts.” Udomprasert plays Lenny Ganz, a “vindictive, emotionally abusive, neurodivergent person, who’s also hilarious to play.”
Paige Stehle (‘25) is “really excited, but also very nervous” about the show. In her first performance at ORHS and her first play ever, Stehle portrays Cookie Cuzack, a woman with back problems and an ugly dress, who Stehle says “is probably one of the nicest people in the show.” Coming from the middle school, she says that being in Rumors is “definitely very different. The middle school had just musicals, and this is a play.” Stehle also notes that in middle school productions, there were three sets of casts and a large ensemble for every show, whereas this year’s play only has ten actors in it. This means the interactions around the play are “a lot more personal, and you can give attention to each person instead of the general cast,” which she likes.
Stehle isn’t the only actor noticing a change this year. While there is a show this year, it is still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Actors must maintain three feet of social distancing from each other and have to wear masks while rehearsing. Eustace says that this “creates certain awkward limitations on stage because, obviously, when we’re rehearsing indoors, everyone has to be masked… Acting is a social thing, and if you don’t really have people’s faces to go off of, you’re swimming with a ball and chain around your ankle. It’s a huge limitation that you’re putting on yourself. But, I think the actors are taking it in stride and doing amazingly with those limits.”
In addition to limitations in rehearsals, the actual performances of the play are being held outside in the Oyster River High School courtyard as opposed to in the auditorium. This helps the audience be safer and allows actors to remove their masks while onstage. Most rehearsals have been held in the auditorium, so actors need to adapt during tech week to using the new space.
Even with these constraints, Rumors is sure to be an excellent show. Keravich encourages everyone to come see it “to help support the school and the theater, and [because] it’s just a fun thing to watch.” Eustace agrees and adds that anyone who comes to see rumors will “enjoy an artistic experience, and have a wonderful time doing it.”
Clio Grondahl (‘23) is looking forward to seeing Rumors. She says, “I’ve always been a huge fan of theatre, and the descriptions that were out in the announcements last week sounded really interesting.” She adds that until now, she hadn’t heard of the play, so seeing it will be “a good chance to see a new show.”
Reserve your tickets now and go have a laugh at Rumors on November 11th or 13th for a guaranteed good time.