GHS Drama Club to present 'Arsenic and Old Lace'
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Nov. 8, 2013
The Glastonbury High School Drama Club is preparing to present the classic dark comedy, "Arsenic and Old Lace," for a two-weekend engagement in the school's auditorium.
The tale involves two spinsters – Abby and Martha Brewster (played by Briannon Chester and Erin Garten) – who run a boarding house and have developed a habit of poisoning its middle-aged male boarders. The sisters' gruesome hobby is discovered by their nephew Mortimer (played by Josh Wagner), a theatre critic who becomes engaged just before discovering a corpse in the house and stumbling into his aunts' hijinks.
The play is being directed by teachers Jeremy Gervais and Steve Nicastro.
Garten said the actors have worked hard to preserve the feel of the '40s period piece. "Most of us have seen the movie, so a lot of us are drawing from that," she said. Garten, a junior, said her character is very Victorian and polite, and harbors a resentment for her sister, which is revealed later in the show.
"I don't have anything in common with her character, so it's been fun trying to find the old lady in me to bring out," she said.
Mortimer becomes freaked out and frantic after he discovers what is going on, leading to a variety of slapstick-like reactions and gestures. Wagner said that is actually not difficult for him to play. "I'm really being myself up there," he said. "I'm a really frantic person. The slapstick's not really acting. I flail around. I do that a lot."
The challenge, Wagner said, is having to react to everything that is said and done. "You have to act like you know what you're doing, so that's hard," he said. "But, it's fun to run around, jump over things, and yell at people."
The cast said they have been having a lot of laughs in rehearsal. Garten said that as she and Chester were learning to walk like septuagenarians, Chester's hip made a popping sound like an older person. "Her hip actually popped," Garten said. "She said, 'Ahh, my hip!' and just crumpled on stage and sounded like an old lady. That was the funniest part of rehearsals."
The cast said audiences will enjoy the show for many reasons, including the contrast between the characters. "There's my frantic quirkiness compared to their [the sisters] being nonchalant about killing people," Wagner said. "It's fun to see the sarcastic tones."
Michael Aiudi plays Reverend Dr. Harper, and said the plot of the show is something of a psychological thriller comedy, and said some of the funniest moments are when Teddy Brewster, the spinsters' brother, who believes he is actually Theodore Roosevelt, appears on stage.
"He just pops in and blows his bugle and yells, 'Charge!' and then runs off," Aiudi said.
"It's a refreshing play, and it's a classic," Garten said. "There's nothing really like this. It's been a movie, and a radio play, too. A lot of people will enjoy seeing it again."
Audience members can now purchase tickets for "Arsenic and Old Lace" via an online system, complete with seating chart and easy checkout, which is on the school's website at www.glastoburyus.org.
"Parents are thrilled about it," said drama club advisor Chris Merisotis. "They can just go online, use a credit card, and it's done."
"Arsenic and Old Lace" will be performed Nov. 15, 16, 22 and 23, at 7 p.m.