Calendar

Arsenic and Old Lace opens April 28

Arsenic and Old Lace cast members include, from left, Janet Johnson, Karen Silver, George Rich, and Jack Boynton during a rehearsal.
Arsenic and Old Lace cast members include, from left, Janet Johnson, Karen Silver, George Rich, and Jack Boynton during a rehearsal. Special to Sierra Star

Never stepping a way from a challenge, the Golden Chain Theatre is bringing yet another Broadway classic to the GCT stage for Mountain Area theater lovers - Arsenic and Old Lace.

In 1941, New Yorkers were looking for some entertainment to take their minds off the war in Europe and the growing fear that America would be pulled into it. On Jan. 10, Broadway gave them exactly what they were looking for in the form of a hilarious new play by Joseph Kesselring.

The play became an immediate critical and popular success, running for 1,444 performances. It also became a hit in England in 1942 as theatergoers who were suffering through London post-blitz lined up for tickets.

In 1944, Hollywood produced a film version staring Cary Grant that became a huge box office success.

The play, a clever combination of the farcical and the macabre, centers on two elderly sisters - Abby Brewster (Karen Silver) and Martha Brewster (Janet Johnson), who are famous in their Brooklyn neighborhood for their numerous acts of charity. Both Silver and Johnson are making their acting debuts with the Golden Chain.

Unfortunately, however, the sisters have a nasty habit of poisoning lonely old men who come to their home seeking lodging. The two women are assisted in their crimes by their mentally challenged nephew (Leonard Brown) who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and frequently blasts a bugle and yells “charge” as he bounds up the stairs.

Matters get complicated when a second nephew, a theater critic (George Rich) discovers the murders and a third nephew (Bobby Woods) appears after having just escaped from a mental institution.

In his adroit mixture of comedy and mayhem, Kesselring satirizes the charitable impulse as he pokes fun at the conventions of the theater.

Meet the charming and innocent ladies who populate their cellar with the remains of socially and religiously “acceptable” roomers in the farce about a nutcase family with well intentioned homicidal tendencies.

The production is directed by MaryHelen Mierkey and is rated PG.

Details: Arsenic and Old Lace, Golden Chain Theatre, 42130 Highway 41, Oakhurst. Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m. and Sundays 2 p.m., April 28 - May 14 - Tickets, $8 - $15, group rates available. (559) 683-7112, www.goldenchaintheatre.org.

Staff Report

  Comments