by Rita Charleston
The scene is a Victorian mansion in the Palisades. The Deputy Mayor of New York City has just been shot in the head, while his wife is nowhere to be found. When the first of four couples arrive to celebrate the couple’s 10th anniversary, they discover the servants gone, nothing prepared and their dazed and slightly wounded host alone and bleeding upstairs. As the other couples arrive, the rumors start to fly, and the story turns into classic farce.
Written by Neil Simon and directed by Noel Hanley, “Rumors” continues at Allens Lane Theater on weekends through Dec. 4.
In the role of Chris Garner, the first wife to arrive on the scene, is Claire Golden Drake, who describes her character as high energy, very nervous and high strung. “When my character discovers the Deputy Mayor shot and blood everywhere, she freaks out,” says Drake. “And in order to play my role convincingly, I run around the parking lot to get my energy up before the play starts. Later, Chris starts to drink, and I spend the second half of the show drunk. And although I don’t have much to say, I’m on stage the whole time.”
A native of Wales, Drake came to Philadelphia in 1995 to study Theatre Arts at the University of the Arts. Since graduating, Drake has been acting, dialect coaching and teaching children’s theater, music and movement in and around Philadelphia. Moving from Erdenheim, Drake now lives in Spring House with her husband Carl, a Chestnut Hill native and current catering chef at The Night Kitchen Bakery, and their three children.
Some of her previous acting credits include stints at Allens Lane, Iron Age Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, Vagabond Acting Troupe, with whom she has been a core ensemble member since 1998, and more. At the age of 41, Drake holds other theatrically inspired jobs when she’s not on stage. Teaching creative movement to the kindergarten class at Overbrook Pre-School and Kindergarten since 2000, Drake has also been their music teacher since 2012.
She is now also the music teacher at Kid View Pre-School in Jenkintown, teaches a baby and toddler music class for the Music Class, Inc. in Blue Bell and facilitates children’s birthday parties that are mostly held at Allens Lane, earning Allens Lane Art Center a “Best Birthday Party Venue” honor in Best of Philly 2013, and more.
“I love doing it all and love staying busy,” says Drake. “I enjoy the camaraderie of the work and the people I work with. I love getting into another person’s mind and figuring out where she’s coming from.” But this working wife and mother also enjoys her family and is always able to make time for them.
“When this show ends I can’t go straight into another, or I wouldn’t be married anymore. No matter what else I’m doing, I always make sure I have time for my children. I fit it all in and get them to the bus, take them off the bus, make dinner for my family and so on. In order to make it all work, I cut back from doing too much theater to doing two shows a year, just to keep my hand in it. After this show I’m taking time off, but I continue to do other things to keep the juices flowing. And I’ll definitely be looking around for the next show come spring.”
Allens Lane is located at 601 West Allens Lane. For more information call 215-248-0546.