The adage of “killing with kindness” takes on a new twist this weekend, when two sweet spinster sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster, consider it their moral duty “to help lonely old men find peace” during Batavia High School’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
The dark comedy will be staged Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre.
Just a nice glass of homemade elderberry wine with a pinch of poison means bottoms up for their unknowing victims. Complications set in when their nephew Mortimer learns of their activities.
This Joseph Kesselring classic is one of the most popular plays in the history of American theater.
Mortimer Brewster, portrayed by Connor Frederick, is a newspaperman and author known for his diatribes against marriage. After he proposes to his girlfriend, Elaine, played by Meghan Rocha, all which is required is to tell Mortimer’s two maiden aunts, played by Katie Bertness and Sarah Heylmun, before he and Elaine go out for the night. While being detained by sandwiches and celebration, he finds out his aunts’ hobby; killing lonely old men and burying them in the cellar.
It gets worse. Enter Mortimer’s older brother, Jonathan, played by Jacob Livingston, and his pal Dr. Einstein, played by Michael Huditz, who have spent the majority of their lives out of prison — against the law’s regulation. Throw in another brother, Teddy, brought to life by Adam Burns, who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt and you have a house full of insanity.
After all, as Mortimer says, “Insanity runs in my family; mine practically gallops!” The play unfolds into a comedy of errors of sorts, keeping the audience guessing with twists and turns.
Other cast members include Aidan Descourouez, C.J. Chandler, Mitch Wallfred, Kyle Cutrara, Eric Poulos, Claire Heronemus, and John Hohman.
“Arsenic and Old Lace” first hit Broadway Jan. 10, 1941. Following the closing of the Broadway production, the Frank Capra movie starring Cary Grant as Mortimer was released, and has gone on to become an American classic. In fact the movie, “Arsenic and Old Lace” ranked 30 on the American Film Institute’s funniest films.
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is produced by Batavia High School under the direction of Dominic A. Cattero (who once played the role of Mortimer himself) and technical direction of Mike Baglieri.
Performances will be held at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1201 Main St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26-27. Purchase tickets, $11 to $14, at www.Batavia FineArtsCentre.org or by calling (630) 937-8930.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.