Freeport Theatre Festival performs classic ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is one of those killer classics.
Written by Joseph Kesselring, two maiden aunts, Abby and Martha Brewster, have a curious charity. They poison lonely, elderly gentlemen with homemade elderberry wine spiked with arsenic, in order to put them out of their misery.
Set in 1941, the women live in Brooklyn, N.Y. with their nephew Teddy Brewster, who sincerely believes that he is Teddy Roosevelt. Another nephew, Mortimer Brewster, who is a ruthless New York drama critic, often visits.
And yet another nephew Jonathan, who is a homicidal maniac and resembles Boris Karloff. Karloff is an icon of horror films and most notably known for his role as the monster in the 1931 production of “Frankenstein.”
This show will come to life at the Freeport Festival Theatre in Allegheny Township on opening night – Aug. 9. The theater is celebrating its 30th season.
“Their mission (the sisters) is one of topsy-turvy mercy,” says Marushka Steele, co-owner of the theater with husband Rennick Steele.
“If you need a laugh, a real belly laugh, come to this show. When you talk about murder it doesn’t seem like it will be a delightful subject, but this show is delightful. This show is meant for fun. The ladies are so sweet. They serve wine,” she says.
Abby Brewster is played by Bonnie Cahill.
“I adore ‘Arsenic and Old Lace,’” says Cahill of Saxonburg. “It’s beautifully crafted and appeals to everyone. The only thing that scares me is people might not get the references to Boris Karloff.”
This play is so timeless and wacky, she adds. She describes the sisters as “killing the men with kindness.”
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is being directed by Tom Abbott of Natrona Heights, a retired school teacher, who has been involved with Freeport Festival Theatre for 16 years and has directed previous shows.
“Freeport Festival Theatre is a family-oriented theater and they have a great troupe of actors,” says Abbott. “This play is a dark comedy and is the height of ridiculousness. This show requires very good timing and good chemistry, because everything has to mesh together.”
“It’s a hilarious comedy that fizzles and bubbles,” Steele says. “It’s a laugh out loud show and we hope to keep our audience in stitches from beginning to end. Elderberry wine may be served in the theater.” Drink at your own risk.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .