The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
It was September 2001, shortly after two hijacked American airliners had reduced the Twin Towers to a pile of debris and killed nearly 3,000 passengers, and Clark Reed was skeptical about performing in his high school’s latest production.
The play was “Rumors,” a farcical play by Neil Simon that opened on Broadway in 1988. The setting was a New York City dinner party, which went awry when several affluent couples take extreme lengths to conceal the deputy mayor’s attempted suicide from local law enforcement and the media. Due to the lighthearted nature of “Rumors,” Reed said his director grappled with the idea of canceling the show.
“Ultimately he decided, 'Yes, we need to perform, because in a time of anger and fear and sadness, people need to be able to laugh,’” said Reed, now assistant technical theater director at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. “Theater was a ministry, and we had the opportunity to help heal this immense tragedy.”
Reed remained skeptical — until an elderly woman approached him after the first performance with tears in her eyes.
“She said, ‘Thanks for making me laugh. I thought I would never laugh again,’” Reed said. “That’s the moment I decided to do theater for the rest of my life.”
It is fitting, then, that Reed will make his directorial debut at LSC-PA with this show. The drama club “A Class Act” will present “Rumors” Oct. 24-27 in the Black Box Theater in the LSC-PA Performing Arts Center, 1500 Procter Street.
Reed said his familiarity with the production, coupled with the outrageously silly script, make “Rumors” easy to direct.
“With a farce, you have the opportunity to make it as silly and cartoonish as you possibly can,” he said. “It is hilarious, and the students are loving it. Them getting to do all the silly things they want to do is really one of the most powerful things for me.”
The actors find the script’s comedy both fun and challenging.
“As a farce, it’s so real that it’s tough not to play it seriously,” said Nick Bishop of Port Neches, who plays upstart politician Glenn. “But whenever you find the humor, it’s so great — we find ourselves laughing at things we’ve never laughed at before.”
Hunter Hodges, who plays lawyer Ken, agreed.
“There’s a lot of hidden jokes thrown in there — some people will get them, some won’t,” said Hodges, who lives in Orange. “It adds an extra layer.”
Due to strong language, Reed said “Rumors” is best suited to audiences 18 and up.
“Come in ready to laugh and enjoy people running in and out of doors,” he said.
“Rumors” will run at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24-26, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 27. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for children, with free admission for LSC-PA faculty, students and staff. To reserve tickets, call 409-984-6111.