“ARSENIC AND OLD LACE” A CLASSIC COMEDY AT IVORYTON


By Bonnie Goldberg

The Brewster Sisters of Brooklyn, New York have a reputation for being virtuous and genteel, generous to a fault, ready to send soup to a sick neighbor, eager to open their home to strangers.  The slight quirk that the strangers, men who are lonely and without family, end up buried in their basement seems not to disturb the sisters in the least.

Please welcome Abby and Martha Brewster, those sinister sweeties, as they offer a glass of their unique brew, elderberry wine, in Joseph Kesselring’s imaginative comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, June 27.

The fact that the play is based on a real life woman from Windsor, Connecticut who ran a boarding house where sixty-six men mysteriously disappeared after imbibing her special lemonade and arsenic cocktail makes this production juicier and more macabre.

After tonight’s show, M. William Phelps who wrote “The Devil’s Rooming House,” the story of America’s Deadliest Female Killer, will be at Ivoryton for a Talk Back and book signing.

Abby (Alden Rockwell Murphy) and Martha (Susan Gayle Pynn) are the epitome of Christian charity. When their devoted nephew Mortimer (Dan Whelton) accidentally discovers their little secret, he immediately concocts a plan to blame the murders on the delusional family member who already believes he is President Teddy Roosevelt (Tom Libonate).

Mortimer determines that if he commits Teddy to a mental hospital run by Mr. Witherspoon (Joe Kornfeld), he can convince his aunties to take up a new and less deadly hobby.

While Mortimer juggles his job as a theater critic, the signing of the commitment papers and his new engagement to Elaine (Courtney Shaw), the daughter of Reverend Doctor Harper (Stephen Kelly), Mortimer’s estranged brother Jonathan (Robert Boardman), a serial killer in his own right, arrives unexpectedly with his strange companion Dr. Einstein (R. Bruce Connelly).

Mix in a few unsuspecting visitors and policemen (Kevin Spedding, Jamison Daniels and Dan Coyle) and you have the ingredients for a potent potable indeed.  Julia Kiley serves as master mixologist for this talented troupe.

For tickets ($38, seniors $30, students $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch how Teddy Roosevelt charges up San Juan Hill and digs locks for the Panama Canal in the basement as his delusions aid and abet the Brewster Sisters in their unusual and mysterious avocation.

 

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