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At Herndon: 'Rumors' and 'Plaza Suite'

Psst. Have you heard the buzz? The Herndon Hornet Theatre Department is presenting two fall shows by Neil Simon during their 2003-04 season: "Rumors" on Nov. 6 and 8, and "Plaza Suite" on Nov. 20 and 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Herndon High School Auditorium.

Back for a second year, Herndon High School theatre director John Whapham has chosen to spice things up with two comedies by the famous playwright Neil Simon. Simon wrote about the shortcomings of everyday people, usually living in New York, whom audiences can easily connect with on a personal level. Jack Lemon once said of Simon: "Neil has the ability to write characters — even the leading characters that we're supposed to root for — that are absolutely flawed. They have foibles. They have faults. But, they are human beings. They are not all bad or all good; they are people we know." Herndon's performances of his plays will surely bring Simon's quirky characters to life.

"Rumors" first premiered in 1988 in New York City. The farce follows the peculiar events at a party where the host is found with a bullet hole through his ear and his wife missing. The first couple to arrive fabricates a cover-up story that they tell to the other guests. But as more invitees arrive, the explanation gets more and more construed. When the police arrive, the upper-class guests find themselves in a tizzy as they attempt to unravel what really occurred.

A play in three acts, "Plaza Suite" first premiered in 1968 at the Plymouth Theatre. The show presents the events in Suite 719 at the Plaza Suite Hotel on three different nights. Simon combines seriousness with comic relief to create a masterpiece that delves into the sacred act of matrimony. Each act describes relationships at a different stage of infidelity, beginning with a couple who just experienced an affair, continuing with a woman who is contemplating being unfaithful, and ending with a young woman who locks herself in the bathroom moments prior to walking down the aisle.

This year, Whapham decided to attach the fall shows with the advanced theatre class. Consequently, both "Rumors" and "Plaza Suite" showcases the talents of many Herndon seniors who will soon strut across the Herndon stage for the last time. Also, both fall plays are student directed and only supervised by Whapham. This gave a unique opportunity to four seniors to try out their directorial shoes. Those include Rachel Heyd, in charge of "Rumors," and Mehdi Raoufi, Mike Mauren, and Zain Afzal overseeing "Plaza Suite."

The productions of "Rumors" and "Plaza Suite" will also introduce new state-of-the-art lighting equipment recently purchased by the Theatre Department. Called Varilite 1000s, these intelligent lighting instruments operate completely autonomously after being programmed. Throughout the shows, the Varilites rotate and spotlight different characters without the need of constant refocusing. Whapham is very excited with his new purchase, in addition to more advanced sound equipment, that will elevate the effectiveness of the technical aspects of the show to match the level of the talented cast.

Tickets will be sold at the door at $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For more information, contact the John Whapham in the theatre department at 703-810-2341. This production is presented with special arrangements from Samuel French, Incorporated.