Rumors are spreading on St. Simons Island, but not the kind leaked by Russian hackers or political operatives.
This time around it’s prolific playwright Neil Simon’s 1988 Broadway hit, “Rumors,” produced by The Island Players and opening Friday at the Casino Theatre on St. Simons Island.
Veteran Players’ director Richard Elichuk, a Canadian snowbird vacationing in the Golden Isles, said the farcical show has some dark humor in it that’s sure to draw some laughs.
The show centers around a New York couple set to throw a party for their 10th wedding anniversary, but things go awry.
“When the first couple gets there, they can’t find the hosts,” Elichuk said, describing the plot. “It turns out that Charlie Brock, the deputy mayor (and party host), in a fit of depression, has decided to shoot himself, but he’s missed and has shot himself in the left earlobe. He’s not going to die, but they’re running around trying to hide this from the police, who come in later on.”
The situation steadily declines from there, with gossip and — you guessed it — rumors swirling among the party guests.
Elichuk, a retired math teacher who has directed more than a dozen shows with The Island Players, is keen not to give away too much of the plot, but in an interview Tuesday before a dress rehearsal, he said the comedy isn’t too terribly dark.
“Toward the end, it’s a happy ending,” Elichuk said. “Everything works out. It’s Neil Simon.”
The cast of 10 has been practicing for about seven weeks, and actress Gail Flexer, who plays party guest Claire Ganz said she has enjoyed the process.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Flexer, a St. Simons Island resident. “You get to have a lot of different adventures through the characters you play on stage. That’s always fun.”
For Flexer, who also played the lead role in The Island Player’s recent production of “Hello Dolly,” the transformative routine of dress rehearsals has been particularly enjoyable.
“This is an especially fun character for me to play, because she gets to wear a great dress and a great outfit,” said Flexer, a real estate agent by day. “Every girl wants to dress up. I wouldn’t wear formal clothes 21 times in January outside of being in the show, so it’s a lot of fun to do that.”
Sitting backstage studying his lines Tuesday, actor Sal Cenicola, who plays a police officer, said it’s a love of the arts that drew him to The Island Players.
“I’ve always loved entertaining,” said Cenicola, who owns Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzaria on St. Simons Island. “It’s fun to practice and we have a really great troupe here.”
“Rumors” won’t be Cenicola’s only big debut this week. In 2015, he played a small role in the upcoming “Live By Night” movie, which filmed in Brunswick and opens Friday.
“You can see me get shot in about the 49th or 50th second of the trailer,” he said.
With more than 30 rehearsals under their belt, the cast of “Rumors” is ready for the curtain to rise at the Casino Theatre, and the director is hoping it’s a crowd pleaser.
“Neil Simon (the playwright) is a pretty funny guy, but there’s some poignant moments in it,” Elichuk said. “It’s sort of a modern one, so there’s some strong language. It’s nothing everybody hasn’t heard, but I do caution people.”