Take a couple of crazy old ladies, add a little bit of poison to some wine, give the deadly mixture to lonely old men, and you have Arsenic and Old Lace! The classic dark comedy is this year’s Montevideo High School fall play, and performances will be held on Friday Nov. 8, Saturday, Nov. 9, and Sunday Nov. 10, at the Fine Arts Center in Montevideo.
The dark comedy was written by American playwright Joseph Kesserling in 1939, and proved to be very popular at the time. An even more popular movie version was released in 1944 and starred Cary Grant.
Dan Hampton, MHS choir instructor, is directing this year’s fall play. He said: “I took on the job of play director in late summer because no one was interested in taking it on. I read lots of shows, but I think the ironic humor and the playfulness of the show really appealed to me.”
It has been awhile since Arsenic and Old Lace was performed by a cast from Monte High. “I have always loved this show, and have fond memories of the version Connie Stennes directed here in Montevideo quite a number of years ago,” said Hampton.
The plot revolves around the Brewster family; an old, respectable family whose ancestors came across on the Mayflower. Unfortunately, insanity tends to run in the family. Two sweet old aunts, Abby and Martha, have a thing for poisoning old men as an act of well-intended but misguided charity.
Their nephew Mortimer recently became engaged to the preacher’s daughter next door. Mortimer accidentally discovers his aunt’s murderous tendencies, and madcap mayhem ensues as he stumbles from one ridiculous situation to another.
Then there is brother Jonathan, who has also committed multiple murders and is on the lam from the law. Brother Teddy believes he is Teddy Roosevelt, who likes to charge up San Juan Hill while blowing a bugle.
Hampton has been pleased so far with the progress of his cast. “I think the kids are having a great time with the play. It was fun coaching them to find the humor as we grew into the show, both through the sight gags and lines. I think they really like their characters, too, and now that their lines are solidifying, they are starting to really get into the development of their characters and enjoying the flow of the show!” he said.
Eighteen students make up the cast of Arsenic and old Lace. The primary characters are: Abby Brewster, played by Daisy Akiuo; Martha Brewster, played by Lilliana Birdsall; Mortimer Brewster, played by Brock Stamper; Elaine Harper, played by Taylor Schutte; Jonathan Brewster, played by Wyatt Haugen; and Dr. Einstein, played by Lily Heim.
Other cast members include: Justice Brown (Officer O’Hara), Andrew Soden (Reverend Dr. Harper), Natalie Land (Officer Brophy), Cadence Darling (Officer Klein), Eliza Buchanan (Lieutenant rooney), Ellie Christopherson (Dr. Witherspoon), Karl Krueger (Gibbs), and Kyle Wohlschlager (Mr. Hoskins/Mr. Spenalzo).
Hampton’s assistant director is Laura Streich, and Ralph Heidorn is in charge of set design and construction.
Costumes are being handled by Celeste Suter, and Beth Hampton is in charge of programs, posters, and tickets.
Mollie Erickson is the back stage crew, and Abby Abrahamson and Sara Jeremiason are the light and sound tech crew.
There is something for everyone to like about Arsenic and Old Lace. “While the storyline of the show appears kind of dark,” said Hampton, “The play itself is harmless and enjoyable. It is extremely funny and is a show everyone in Montevideo should come and see! All ages would have a great time!
“The kids have really worked hard on the production, so I hope we will have some great audiences; it will be well worth their time!”
The curtain rises at 7 p.m. on both Nov, 8 and 9, and at 3 p.m. on Nov. 10. Tickets are available at the door and are $7 for adults, and $5 for students.