Arsenic and Old Lace Preview

Arsenic and Old Lace will premiere at Elkhorn High School on October 14, 2021.


Grace Swanson, Reporter

Arsenic and Old Lace is a dark comedy play set in Brooklyn, New York in the 1940s. The play follows the story of a man named Mortimer Brewster who finds out that his aunts, Abby and Martha Brewster, have picked up the strange hobby of killing old lonely men. When Mortimer finds this out, he tries to stop them, but then his older brother shows up with a dead body of his own. Life is falling apart for Mortimer Brewster, and while he is trying to pull everything together, his fiancé is urging him to make wedding plans. The play takes place within the span of about 12 hours while Mortimer is fighting to pull his life back together.

The cast of Arsenic and Old Lace is hard at work preparing their show by rehearsing four days a week for two to three hours each day along with an occasional weekend rehearsal. For many of the leads, this is their first year performing with a major role.

“Last year’s senior class was really big and talented, so a lot of the students haven’t had the opportunity to have lead roles” play director Jeff Garst said.

Just a few days away from their performances, student director Danah Alounk thinks that they’re right where they should be, but she is worried about upcoming memorization checks.

“Since we had such big and talented senior classes the past two years, a lot of the people haven’t had bigger roles, and they aren’t used to memorizing a lot of lines. So, I think we might have some issues with being memorized in time for our memorization check,” Alounk said.

Although she expresses some concerns, she believes that they will work through it in time for their shows. 

The majority of the play takes place in the interior of the Brewsters’ home. Many people, including Garst, are excited about this year’s set.

“The set has a staircase that goes upstairs. There’s a kitchen door, front door, and things like that. It’s a really good-looking set,” Garst said.

The walls of the set are painted with a floral pattern with pink accents. The set also includes an eight-foot platform with stairs that the cast is thrilled to use. 

The cast of Arsenic and Old Lace contains about 20 students. This year, there is a regular cast and an understudies cast. The main cast is performing on October 14, 15, and 17, and the understudies are performing on Saturday, October 16. Some of the understudies have smaller roles in the main cast but are performing as leads during the understudies’ performance. The directors chose to do an understudies performance to help avoid conflicts with other school activities and illnesses.

“I decided to do an understudy cast this year because of COVID and because the play is in the Fall. There’s a lot of students who have conflicts with band and other activities,” Garst said.

Garst is excited to hear feedback from people who choose to watch both the main performance and the Saturday performance with the understudies.

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