About the show
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a classic 1940 dark comedy that was made first into a film starring Cary Grant. In some ways it might be called the original horror spoof: Two sweet old ladies poison lonely old men as a “charity” and bury them in the cellar. No sooner does their stable nephew find out about this – while preparing to leave for his honeymoon – than his long-lost homicidal brother returns with a face like Frankenstein’s monster.
The play can be seen at 2 p.m. Sunday and at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in the Great Bend High School Auditorium.
Tickets are available for $3 in advance by calling the GBHS office, 620-793-1521, or $5 at the door.
The classic dark comedy, “Arsenic and Old Lace,” is this year’s all-school play at Great Bend High School.
It opens Sunday with a 2 p.m. matinee in the GBHS Auditorium. The play can also be seen at 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 16-17.
GBHS drama instructor Dan Heath said the school produced the play 10 years ago and it never seems to get old. “It’s a huge crowd pleaser.”
Heath shows the 1940 feature film “Arsenic and Old Lace” to his drama students, but he doesn’t want them to imitate Cary Grant and other original cast members. “I encourage them to make it their own.”
The script written by Joseph Kesselring is a little different from the movie, but only a little. Heath notes: The elderly Brewster sisters, Abby (Malia Clark) and Martha (Ashtin Heath), are charitable and charming, and they poison lonely old men to send them to a better place. They enlist the aid of their nephew Teddy (Andrew Morss), the very embodiment of Teddy Roosevelt, to bury the bodies in their cellar. When nephew and renowned dramatic critic Mortimer Brewster (Aaron Miller) discovers one of the victims stuffed in a parlor window seat, laughter prevails as he attempts to keep his aunts’ unusual proclivity from his fiancée Elaine (Gentry Schneider); his vengeful brother Jonathan (Aaron Clark); and the oblivious police (Alyx Torres, Brook Jones, Emilynn Wettengel and Kourtney Adams).
The cast also features an oft-inebriated surgeon of questionable surgical ability (Makinna Dykes); a would-be boarder who barely escapes with his life (Zack Dougherty); a minister protecting his daughter from the wiles of the theater (also Adams); and an unwitting sanitarium superintendent Karlie Stanley).
Heath, who directs the play, held school-wide auditions back in September. He praised the commitment of his energetic cast and crew, which includes a cross section of the study body, including two varsity football players.
“It’s a neat thing when kids don’t feel like they’re trapped in one activity,” Heath said, adding that’s one of the great things about GBHS.
Kesselring’s satire about the misuse of charity pokes fun at the conventions of the theater with a clever mix of the macabre, comedy and mayhem, Heath said. “Join our versatile cast ... and you will see why ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ became one of the longest-running plays on Broadway.”