Comedy, controversy, chaos abound in ACT’s ‘Rumors’

Photos courtesy of Bronwyn Woolman Ashley Wheelock cozies up to a trepidatious Ely Irving.

Scandalous humor and mysterious fun will have mature audiences doubling over in laughter at Alpena Civic Theatre’s “Rumors,” playing this and next weekend.

The Neil Simon play is somewhat of a dark comedy featuring four couples at a late-night party that becomes a whirlwind of gossip, chaos and shenanigans with twists throughout, leading up to a big twist at the end. A mother and daughter pair plays the police officer duo that ultimately investigates the suspicious activity at this party.

The cast includes many returning fan favorites and a few newcomers as well.

Now recovered from the extended illness that took him out earlier this season, Matt Southwell will take the stage as Glenn. Rounding out the 10-member cast are Ashley Wheelock as Cassie, Nick Hartman as Lenny, Tracie Papin as Claire, Taylor Ayotte as Pudney, Ely Irving as Ernie, Amanda Hulsey as Cookie, Curt Hampton as Ken, Laura Wolosiewicz as Chris and Dani Ayotte as Welsh.

This play is a farce recommended for ages 16 and older for “gun shots and strong language.” It may or may not include an attempted suicide.

Photos courtesy of Bronwyn Woolman The cast of Alpena Civic Theatre’s ‘Rumors’ poses at a recent rehearsal. Pictured in back, from left to right, are Matt Southwell as Glenn, Ashley Wheelock as Cassie, Nick Hartman as Lenny and Tracie Papin as Claire. In front, from left, are Taylor Ayotte as Pudney, Ely Irving as Ernie, Amanda Hulsey as Cookie, Curt Hampton as Ken, Laura Wolosiewicz as Chris and Dani Ayotte as Welsh.

Bill Powell is directing this show.

“New York’s Deputy Mayor and his wife are celebrating their 10th anniversary with a party,” a summary on the ACT website states. “The Deputy Mayor is found wounded in bed and his wife missing. His lawyer, Ken, and wife Chris, must get ‘the story’ straight before the other guests arrive. As confusion and miscommunication mount, the evening spins off into classic hilarity.”

Powell sees this play as a tribute to Simon, who passed away last year. ACT had this play on their schedule before his passing.

“He was a fantastic playwright, and this is, in my mind, just about the funniest one of his shows,” Powell said of the late Simon. “He apparently was going through some issues in his life, his marriage was dissolving and there were some other family issues, and he could tell that he was falling into a depression. And the only way he knew to get himself out of that depression was to write a comedy.”

He said the cast does a wonderful job keeping the energy up and delivering a solid comedic performance.

Photos courtesy of Bronwyn Woolman From left to right, Curt Hampton, Matt Southwell, Ely Irving and Nick Hartman engage in a physical group conversation.

“The funny thing about this play is that you never really know for sure what it’s about,” Powell said, adding that many rumors fly throughout the fast-paced evening, and the audience has to determine what is and isn’t true.

When the first couple arrives at the party, it’s a mystery as to what is happening, and one of the many one-liners sets the tone for the play.

“There’s blood everywhere. Why do people decorate in white?”


by Neil Simon

March 7-10 and 14-17

7:30 p.m. Thursday,

Friday and Saturday

and 2 p.m. Sunday

Alpena Civic Theatre

401 River Street


Tickets: $12 per adult

$8 per student


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