Events

November 8, 2012

“Arsenic, Old Lace” is good romp for entire family

Jonathan (Jessie Jacobs) says, “Well, he seems to be gagged and tied quite well. All right, doctor … we go to work,” when he and Dr. Einstein (Mick Shaughnessy), left, prepare to kill Jonathan (Jessie Jacobs, tied) using the Melbourne Method, the death of 1,000 knife cuts.

An evening at the theater can be a wonderful experience when the right material, director, cast and creative staff come together. The Illegitimate Theater Company offers a good time and captivating production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

Premiering on Broadway in 1941 and staged countless times, “Arsenic and Old Lace” is one of those plays that bring back a little black humor and a great time. Director Tommy Kelley revives the classic play with comic touches and an emotional feel.

The story centers on two sisters, Martha and Abigail Brewster (Kathleen Shaughnessy and Joan Rausch), who have found their calling in releasing old men from their loneliness by serving them poisoned elderberry wine, and then burying them in their basement with full funeral services.

Rausch as Abigail is a happy, good-willed old aunt. Her performance is filled with energetic little gestures that make a person smile. Shaughnessy’s Martha is a more calm approach, yet not less captivating in her presence. Both ladies show a comfortable interplay in their performance as these two sweet, yet fiendish sisters.

Mortimer (Matthew Shelton, third from left) tries to convince Jonathan (Jessie Jacobs, second from left) to leave the house with his friend Doctor Einstein (Mick Shaughnessy, left) as the aunts and Elaine look on. “Arsenic and Old Lace” continues this weekend at Murr Community Center.

They live with their peculiar nephew Teddy (Michael Rosen), who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt. Rosen portrays Teddy with a good heartedness and charm. He plays the bugle and charges up San Juan Hill with enthusiasm.

Another nephew, Mortimer (Matthew Shelton), a neat and charming theater critic, represents the common sense and good reason of the Brewster family. Shelton is a fun, physical comedian and a joy to watch. Nicole Shelton, his partner on stage and in life, portrays Elaine. She is his perfect counterpart throughout the play.

Jessie Jacobs plays the bad nephew, Jonathan, who has returned to his family home to hide out from the law. Jacobs plays the Boris Karloff look-alike as an intimidating character. Her partner in crime, Dr. Einstein (Mick Shaughnessy), has a well-played accent, and guarantees the audience’s laughter.

Mortimer (Matthew Shelton) and Elaine (Nicole Shelton) discuss the play they will be seeing that night and casually flirt with each other.

The entire crew gives a well-rounded performance, a wonderful evening delight.

Scenic design by Troy Lopes and Michael Rosen is a solid, interesting backdrop for the entire play.

The entire company put together a great show, to be enjoyed by young and old.

Those who haven’t seen the play last weekend should take a chance and join the Brewster family this weekend at Murr Community Center on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available for $15 at Murr Community Center, 533.2404.




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