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Misunderstandings and miscommunications run rampant as Community Players spreads Neil Simon’s 'Rumors'

Actors Sean Henderson and Alyssa Fabry sit on a couch and pose for a photo on the living-room set of their play "Rumors"
Emily Bollinger
Actors Sean Henderson and Alyssa Fabry on the set of their play "Rumors" at Community Players Theatre in Bloomington.

Community Players Theatre in Bloomington is staging a new production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors.”

Set in upstate New York in the 1980s at a dinner party, “Rumors” is about upper-class individuals trying to keep up their appearances. In this comedic drama, the characters attempt to save face through constant misunderstandings and miscommunications.

“No one is really talking and being forward with one another which only makes the situation worse,” said actor Sean Henderson, who plays the self-centered state Senate candidate Glenn Cooper.

About the actors and their characters

Henderson grew up in the 1980s and said he was not rich, unlike the character he plays in “Rumors.”

“But I did get to witness the yuppie development, and this is like a play on those people who were upper-crust and made a lot of money,” said Henderson.

Henderson’s character, Glenn Cooper, is married to Cassie Cooper played by Alyssa Fabry. She described Cassie Cooper as a fun character who is a bit neglected by her husband, dissatisfied in her marriage, and searching for herself emotionally.

Cassie Cooper has to live up to the societal expectations of being a politician’s wife.

“We very much have taken on the character analysis of what it would be like to be someone who has to keep up their appearance,” Fabry said.

As someone who has endured communication errors in relationships before, Fabry said her life experiences have helped her play into the absurdity of misunderstandings that occur throughout the play. She has been working on figuring out how someone with her character’s status in the time period would try to save face.

“Hopefully people, when leaving this, and seeing the absurdity, will understand that ‘next time I’m in a sticky situation maybe it’s best to just be honest about what’s happening,’” Fabry said. “Versus having to scheme and plot in order to get some signs of a resolution.”

Actors Sean Henderson and Alyssa Fabry pose for a photo while sipping champagne on the set of their play "Rumors"
Emily Bollinger
Actors Sean Henderson and Alyssa Fabry on the set of their play "Rumors" at Community Players Theatre in Bloomington.

“Rumors” is Fabry’s first performance in a community theater.

“I can’t even emphasize how awesome it’s going to be to have a live audience here because we’ve worked so hard to not only hit the timing, but we’ve brought so much creative energy to our characters as well as the dynamics,” she said.

Henderson is not new to community theater, but this will be his first comedy. Henderson said he is used to taking his time and drawing in the audience with long lines, but doing a comedy is different because timing is extremely important.

It’s showtime

“‘Rumors’ is just an amazing, farcical romp here at Community Players Theatre, and I’m really looking forward to the audience's involvement and seeing the reaction that we get as opposed to just doing our rehearsals,” Henderson said.

Since the play takes place in the 1980s, Henderson said he imagines there will be more of an adult audience consisting of people who also grew up in the 1980s.

Fabry emphasized that the play is for everyone, except young kids. Fabry said the audience will see a lot of cattiness, eye-rolling behaviors, and humorous antics.

“Rumors” will be performed at Community Players Theatre in Bloomington on Sept. 1, 2, 8, and 9 and 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 3 and 10 at 2:30 p.m. You can find more information and buy tickets at CommunityPlayers.org.

Emily Bollinger is a digital producer at WGLT, focused on photography, videography and other digital content.