Press Release for ARSENIC AND OLD LACE:
January 28, 2009
Title of Show: ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
Date of First Performance: February 26, 2009
Date of Last Performance: March 8, 2009
Venue Name: Bowne Street Community Church, which is 2 blocks from the Main St. Station of the 7 traiin, three blocks from the LIRR Main St. Station, and has parking on site.
Venue Address: 143-11 Roosevelt Ave in Flushing
Ticket Price: $15 general admission; $10 students/seniors
How to buy tickets: Call or order from Smarttix.com at 212.868.4444. Group sales call Nanette Asher at 718.357.3842
Thursday, February 26th at 7:30PM
Friday, February 27th at 1:00PM and 7:30PM
Saturday, February 28th at 7:30PM
Sunday, March 1st at 6:00PM
Thursday, March 5th at 7:30PM
Friday, March 6th at 7:30PM
Saturday, March 7th at 7:30PM
Sunday, March 8th at 6:00PM
Producer or Producing Company: Queens Shakespeare, Inc
Author/Creator of the show: Joseph Kesselring
Synopsis: Queens Shakespeare Inc. presents Joseph Kesselring's classic comedy/thriller/farce revolving around Mortimer Brewster, a theater-hating drama critic who must deal with his crazy, homicidal family and local police in Brooklyn, NY, as he debates whether to go through with his recent promise to marry the woman he loves. His family includes two spinster aunts who have taken to murdering lonely old men by poisoning them with a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and "just a pinch" of cyanide; a brother who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and digs locks for the Panama Canal in the cellar of the Brewster home (which then serve as graves for the aunts' victims); and a murderous brother who has received plastic surgery performed by an alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein to conceal his identity and now looks like horror-film actor Boris Karloff.
Directed by Lawrence Lesher
Production Stage Manager / Costume Design: Tara Mary Schmitt
Production Manager / Set / Lighting Design: Jonathan Emerson
The show features: Nanette Asher, Timothy J. Cox, Jonathan Emerson, Matthew Harris, Brendon Hunt, Meg Mark, Danny Mittermeyer, Greg Mocker, Sean MacBride Murray, Tom Patella, Bill Rapp and Pauline Walsh
BlogCritics.com Review of the play:
Written by Hannah Marie Ellison
Published March 01, 2009
Part of StageMage
After more than 60 years, Joseph Kesselring’s highly amusing masterpieceArsenic and Old Lace is still an incredibly funny show. This past weekend, the current Queens Shakespeare, Inc. presentation of this brilliant black comedy did have a few bumps (specifically, some not-so-solid lead performances), but Lawrence Lesher's direction was crisp and there were a number of high-spirited performances from an impressive supporting cast.
Kesselring's wicked tale tells the story of two presumably sweet old ladies, both considered pillars of Brooklyn for their charitable works and generosity to their neighbors. But even they, as it is said in the show, have their peculiarities. The peculiarity here is that they turn out to be serial killers.
Deciding that it would be a pity to let vacant rooms remain empty in their old house, the Brewster sisters, Abby and Martha (Nanette Asher and Pauline Walsh), occasionally take in boarders. They cannot help but notice the loneliness of the older, unattached men whom fate or chance bring to their door. When these prospective tenants of modest means tell the sisters that they are alone in the world, without family, friends, or hope, the well-meaning sisters literally kill them with kindness by serving them a glass of their homespun elderberry wine, laced with arsenic, plus a dash of strychnine and just a pinch of cyanide.
When their innocent nephew Mortimer (Greg Mocker) accidentally finds out about his aunties’ unusual “hobby,” he plans to shift the blame for the killings onto his brother Teddy (Sean MacBride Murray), who thinks he is President Theodore Roosevelt and dresses and acts accordingly. Adding to the mix is Mortimer's insane brother Jonathan (Danny Mittermeyer), on the lam from the law, wearing a new face (vaguely reminiscent of horror film legend Boris Karloff) compliments of his whiskey-drinking plastic surgeon companion Dr. Einstein (Timothy J. Cox). The pair arrives in Brooklyn dragging along a corpse of their own.
What follows is a potent mixture of madcap comedy and smoldering menace, and director Lawrence Lesher deserves high praise for striking all the right notes, with most scenes popping with great energy and enthusiasm. His production, however, while good (even quite wonderful) in many spots, falls short of being an overall great one because of two lackluster lead performances, from Nanette Asher as Abby Brewster and Greg Mocker as Mortimer. Both actors throughout seemed terribly lost, never settling into their roles or finding a rhythm, especially Mocker, whose line readings were unusual in some spots and downright bizarre in others.
A big part of my criticism of their performances, mostly Asher's, has to do with the simple fact that I couldn't make out a large percentage of what they were saying. Admittedly, the acoustics at the Bowne Street Community Church auditorium, where the play was performed, was not an ideal space for this zany show, but that didn't deter the strong supporting cast, who managed to rise above the spatial limitations and deliver great performances. Pauline Walsh, who was drop-dead hysterical as Martha Brewster, injected much-needed life into all her scenes; roly-poly Sean MacBride Murray was a pistol from the opening curtain as a delightful Teddy. The lovely Meg Mark, who reminded me of a young Meg Ryan, was great as Mortimer’s not-so-dumb, undersexed girlfriend Elaine Harper, a minister’s daughter who throws herself at Mortimer and becomes more and more confounded by his strange unwillingness to respond to her romantic overtures.
Jonathan Emerson, Thom Brown III, Matthew Harris, and Brendon Hunt (sic) all contributed nice cameos (and ridiculous Irish accents) as a bunch of not very observant police officers. Hands down, though, the scene-stealers were Danny Mittermeyer, superb as the murderous and sadistic Jonathan Brewster, and the always top-notch Timothy J. Cox, magnificent as Dr. Einstein. Both actors exploded on to the stage at end of Act I and set the tone and pace for the remainder of the show, playing off each other like a seasoned acting duo.
Aside from his duties on stage, Jonathan Emerson also acted as scenic and lighting designer for the production, and given the space he had to work with, he managed to create a workable space for the actors and subtly light the proceedings.
With a little polishing of a few of its comic characterizations, the current production of Arsenic and Old Lace in Flushing could be a must-see comedy.
Arsenic and Old Lace runs at the Bowne Street Community Church in Flushing until March 8th. For information on tickets, visit Smarttix.com.