How Did Myra End Up In The Basement?

Sam Black

Theater director Julie Ahasay took ten local actors and brought them to the precipitous edge of insanity as The Duluth Playhouse returned Neil Simon’s play, Rumors, to the Depot stage. Ahasay quotes Simon: “The simplest aspect of a farce is you need a lot of doors. And you need people to go running into and out of them, just missing each other.” Apparently, back in 1988 he needed some emotional escape, so he created a totally emotional escape for all of his audiences.

Eight characters - connected professionally, even to the point of visiting the same physician(!) - have come to a house party where the host and hostess are never present on stage. We are given a half dozen different stories about what might have happened to the host couple, but we never actually know what the reality is. As Officer Welch (Mark Venhuizen) concludes: I like your explanation. I don’t believe a word of it, but I really like it. Good night.

Lenny Ganz(Jody Kujawa) - pretending to be Charlie Brock -  had just delivered his memorable monologue about the car accident and the gunshots that were part of the ambiguous evening. No one was particularly sober at this point, but Kujawa was so incredibly convincing, that the police officers went away, and, out of nowhere, Myra banged on the basement door, asking someone to please let her out. 

The entire cast, Kujawa, Jason Scorich, Louisa Scorich, Vanhuizen, Julie Vanhuizen, Vicki Fingalson, Mike Pederson, Sara Sorenson, Greg Anderson, and Ashley Whitcomb, had a sense of timing that was as precise as a matzoh balanced on its corner. Nothing politically relevant was ever spoken (so much for being trumped!), and each character tried diligently to maintain decorum, while using lies (and good alcohol)  to make sense out of a lack of factual reality. Once every fifteen years we need a shot of this!

Please look at The Reader, The Duluth News Tribune, or visit  to try to keep up with activities during this month of October. All of the area colleges, UMD, UWS, LSC, and CSS are way deep in presenting drama and music from guest artists, as well as faculty and students. The Duluth Art Institute has fascinating displays every month of the year. The local theatrical companies, Duluth Playhouse, Underground, Renegade, Wise Fool, County Seat, are in full motion, with the first series of plays coming to a close, and a new round shortly to begin. 

Lyric Opera of the North (LOON) is featuring a staged version of an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach on the 14th and 15th of this month. Much of the world is remembering the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s administrative disagreements with the Roman Church of his time, and the music of Bach came along two centuries after Luther’s writings. The Passion According to St. John is a retelling of the final days of Jesus, using the text of the gospel attributed to a writer named John. This is a musical masterpiece, with a lot of Bach’s intense religious feeling built in. Two performances will happen in the auditorium at Lincoln Park Middle School at 7:30pm on Saturday night the 14th, and at 3:00pm on Sunday afternoon the 15th. This might be your last opportunity to watch this during the 21st century!

Concurrently, the Metropolitan Opera will be presenting matinee performances of  Bellini’s Norma this coming Saturday (Oct. 7), and Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Oct. 14). These performances come to Duluth on ‘closed-circuit HD television’ at the Duluth 10 Theaters in Canal Park. This is live opera, simply disconnected in geography, so to speak. All the ups and downs of live performance take place on New York time, at hundreds of movie theaters around the world. Easy parking, downtown Duluth, the best operatic performances in the world: what could be better than this?