Arsenic and Old Lace” plays 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and Oct. 12 and 13, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the LSPA Black Box Theater at 214 Bull St. The show is a picnic dinner theater, where patrons can bring food to eat 45 minutes before the show starts, but must be cleared by show time. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Reservations are required by calling 706-882-9909.
You know those sweet old aunts you have? What if they had a dark secret … a really dark secret.
That’s the premise of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” which opens Thursday at the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts’ Black Box Theater.
The play focuses on the Brewster family. Spinster sisters Martha, played by Molly Fitzsimmons, and Abby, Melissa Stanley, live with their nephew Teddy, Ron Hunt, who thinks he is president Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy’s brother Johnathan, Jim Hunt, is a criminal who has undergone drunken plastic surgery to try and elude police.
The play involves the duality of the aunts, who are well-liked in the community, but whose secret is at odds with all other aspects of their lives.
“Till their secret’s revealed, they’re all sugar and sweet,” said Shawn Morvay, who plays “normal” family member Mortimer, brother of Teddy and Johnathan.
As he is set to marry Elaine, Kelly Finley, the local minister’s daughter, Mortimer discovers the skeletons in his family’s closet. He tries to figure out how to keep the craziness from affecting his plans and keep his fiancee unsuspecting.
“He’s fun to play - lots of running around and screaming,” Morvay said “… He’s trying to make a happy ending out of a miserable situation.”
Finley said her character plays the outside observer to the craziness that Mortimer finds himself in.
Director Ryan McWhorter said what makes the play enjoyable is well-rounded characters. The cast perfectly encompasses their roles, noting that Stanley and Fitzsimmons have a chemistry together “like they can read each-other’s thoughts. … It’s creepy.”
The show is a dark comedy, McWhorter said.
“This is not a Halloween show, but we’re trying to do it kind of like a Halloween show,” he said. “It feels like a Halloween story. … We keep it a comedy, but there’s an underlying sense of the macabre.”
Barry Kennedy, who plays Dr. Einstein – not that Dr. Einstein, as the characters in the play are reminded – the drunken surgeon helping out criminal brother Johnathan, said the show is a classic comedy.
“It’s a little on the dark side,” he said with a grin.
The cast says the play still manages to stay grounded.
“It’s a fun show because there’s lots of silliness, but it’s silliness that you can sell as reality,” Stanley said.
However, the cast have fun with their roles, which they said translates to performances the audience will likewise enjoy. Stanley and Fitzsimmons found it liberating to play characters that might be a bit unhinged.
“It’s a really fund show because we get to play crazy people,” Fitzsimmons said. “So much fun.”