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'Arsenic and Old Lace' or a little elderberry wine...anyone?
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a spellbinding black comedy that will appeal to the entire family with hilarious slapstick humor and a sly commentary on life and family quirks.
The play comes to life with captivating performances by Sharon Hall and Pam Putnam-Bourne, who play the leading roles of sisters Martha and Abby Brewster.
Under the direction of Bob Merzoian and Vince Black, veteran actors Ralph Bourne as Jonathan Brewster, Black as Teddy Brewster, Merzoian as Dr. Einstein, Buzz Piersol as Mortimer Brewster, Mel Gosage as Dr. Rev. Harper, and Denise Everhart as Elaine Harper create an astounding comic melodrama that will delight the audience.
Opening night for “Arsenic and Old Lace” was Friday, Jan. 25, and performances continue today at 7:30 p.m., as well as Feb. 1, 2, 8 and 9 and a Sunday brunch matinee performance Feb. 3 at 12:30 p.m.
“I’ve been having a ball,” says Merzoian. “The wonderful thing about this play is that we have a bunch of veteran actors and new young blood performing together in a stage classic.”
Ralph Bourne has completely shaved his beard and sideburns for the role, while Gosage meticulously uses the appropriate type of match to light his pipe during his scene with the Brewster sisters. Everhart, of Salon Sassafyde has styled all the hair and makeup for the production, while Sharon Hall created all the costumes.
Caidy Charles, who plays Officer O’Hara, creates a sense of authenticity with her lovely accent, along with Jeremy Waterman and Ray DePerry as police officers, with Richard Robinson, Jack Havery and Corey Barnes playing supporting roles.
Written by Joseph Kesselring before WWII, the plays plot centers around two genteel old ladies, the Brewster sisters, who live in a house in Brooklyn and rent a room out to lodgers.
The Brewster family has lived in that house for years, and there are some interesting memories attached to the house, especially regarding some long-lost relatives.
There seems to be a lot of interest in the place, but the lodger’s are always on a trip or visiting relatives. The police seem to have a somewhat protective presence in regard to the Brewster sisters, due to their charity and kindly care of friends and neighbors.
Mortimer Brewster, played by Piersol, is a drama critic, and has a somewhat tentative relationship with Elaine Harper, played by Denise Everhart, the daughter of Dr. Rev. Harper, a friend of the Brewster sisters. Piersol gives a smashing portrayal of somewhat frustrated and confounded young reporter trying to tie up loose ends with his job and his family life.
A lovely old-fashion sitting room sets the scene in the Brewster household, with period antiques, an upright radio and table laden with a tea service. A hat rack, corbelled staircase and armchairs complete the set and create a homey feeling to the old Brewster residence.
Judyann Hellrung produced the play, with stage manager Gosage, lighting and sound by Mike Proctor, with set construction and decoration by Black, Ralph and Pam Bourne, Merzoian, and the rest of the back stage crew.
“This is a hilarious play,” said Gosage. “You fall in love with the Brewster sisters every time you see the play. It is so well written;”
Cost for the Feb. 3 Sunday brunch and show is $14, with reservations required by Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Ticket prices are $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students and under 12.