SOAP LAKE — The tale of a man’s efforts to cope with the realization that his two sweet, respectable aunts are crazy and homicidal opens at the Masquers Theater this weekend. “Arsenic and Old Lace” opens Friday and continues for three weekends through June 30.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $14 and can be purchased at the Masquers website, www.masquers.com.
Abby and Martha Brewster (Rosalee Chamberlain and Cheri Barbre in the Masquers production) dispense soup to the sick, care for their crazy nephew Teddy (Jeremy Hansen), and are very respected in their neighborhood. And, as their not-crazy nephew Mortimer (Andrew Covarrubias) discovers, they kill lonely old men who come by the house seeking to rent a room.
Fifteen minutes ago, Mortimer was having a great day – his girlfriend Elaine (Emma Russell) agreed to marry him, and they’re on their way out for a date. Then he opens the chest in the dining room.
Alas, Mortimer’s troubles are about to get worse. His crazy and creepy brother Jonathan (Lui Navarro) is on his way home, with his equally creepy friend the plastic surgeon (Jesse Huntwork) in tow.
“It’s going to be a blast,” said director Adam Zaleski.
“Arsenic and Old Lace” premiered in 1941; it’s a classic, and classic can mean old, boring and slow. Zaleski said that description doesn’t apply. “The premise – the twist. I find in comedy, it’s a little ahead of its time,” Zaleski said.
The play is a black comedy; “it’s a little scary here and there,” Zaleski said. But it’s black comedy with the emphasis on comedy – fast and funny dialogue, and the Masquers production will have plenty of slapstick. “The Marx Brothers meet (Charlie) Chaplin.”
Zaleski said “Arsenic and Old Lace” was the play that got him interested in acting, back when he was a kid. His mom had a role in a local production and took her kids along to rehearsals; Zaleski said he was fascinated by the action on stage. He said he remembered thinking “that’s what I want to do. I want to get up there and make people laugh.”
The play is Zaleski’s first solo directing effort. He was one of three Masquers veterans who wrote and directed original one-act plays in “Them Three,” and was the director of (and acted in) a summer musical for Quincy Valley Allied Arts.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.