Last night was the opening of the show, and my SO and I, while talking on the way home, came to the same conclusion: we just don't care for this script. I'm sure Mr. Simon will be terribly disappointed.
It's now far from our first visit here, and the usual actors from Melon Patch were most of the main cast on stage; these actors (Dustin Lavine as Lenny, Laney Clark as Cookie, Jonathan Olson as Ken, Aimee Bangle as Chris, Merissa Dean as Claire, and Lillian Garback as Cassie) we've seen before in productions here, and they're VERY good on-stage. Director Jennifer Mendez's has done well for herself and grows more comfortable every show.
So why was Act 1 so awful? Act 2 was far and away better than Act 1 - the characters finally came alive a bit and became *interesting*. Act 1 the characters felt like tired cliches of American upper class cartoons - and I've seen these actors work well with better material...so my SO and I decided Neil Simon's humor here just didn't click with us, and not to tar the cast and crew for a script we didn't like. (I didn't like the script for Mamma Mia! either, for that matter)
The set was well done, we had no noticeable sound or lighting glitches (other than characters on stage left right flushing a toilet and sound effect coming from stage left), the costumes were great, lines were solid, and Lavine's grand moment at the end of Act 2 is the highlight of show (or was for us). Why the audience didn't applaud (and Lavine looked like he was expecting there to be applause - and there should have been, it was an exhausting scene) is beyond me.
Pet Peeves: the last time I was at Melon Patch (Clue! On Stage, in Oct 2020), I took the production to task for a number of issues that get under my skin: pantomiming drinks on stage; pantomiming drinks on stage when wearing a mask; and having (in my opinion) useless masks in the first place.
Last night, all the female cast has full face shields that didn't limit their ability to emote, or smear makeup; the male cast wore more solid plexiglas nose and mouth coverings. And when they drank from a glass, they LIFTED THE MASK TO DRINK like you would at a party if you were there right now. In our New Normal, it looked...exactly right. When one actor smoked on stage, the mask came up again. There was liquid in the glasses, liquid in the bottles, and actual darn pretzels in the pretzel bag. It's always good to see attention paid to the little things.
This was the first time I'd seen Rumors, and based on the script if I don't see it again I won't cry myself to sleep at night. This cast, in my opinion, made the best silk purse they could of out the sow's ear they were given. Go see the production and support your local theater!
Grade: B- (swearing, smoking; not recommended for children under 10 - and they'd be bored stiff, frankly)