Madison High actors present ‘Arsenic & Old Lace’

See student actors preparing for a seriously funny play, in which murder has never been so hilarious! It runs March 14, 15, and 16 …

In outer East Portland, Madison High School Theater Department student prop masters Jack Chase and Hugo Gillard prepare candles to decorate the set of their upcoming production of Arsenic & Old Lace.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

With dark winter days still resisting a turn to spring, it’s time to lighten our mood with the new Madison High School (MHS) Theater Department presentation of Arsenic & Old Lace, opening on March 14.

This dark situation-comedic play tells the story of the Brewster family, descended from “Mayflower” settlers – but now, alas, composed of batty homicidal relatives.

The show’s director, Ms. Zena, coaches a rehearsal of Arsenic & Old Lace.

“I love that Arsenic & Old Lace is a classic farce; a dark comedy,” grinned MHS Theater Department teacher and the play’s Director, Ms. Zena. “Being a farce, loaded with cascading complications and outrageous characters, it’s a lot of fun for audiences to watch. Yes, it is a murder mystery, but it’s loaded with situational humor!

“And, it’s a lot of fun for the student actors; it’s seldom they get to play this kind of a storyline, and portray this kind of crazily delightful characters,” Zena told East Portland News.

Aunties Martha Brewster (played by Anna Cabello) and Abby Brewster (played by Elizabeth Silva) welcome “home” their nephew, Mortimer Brewster (played by Levi Smith).

About the story
Theatre-loathing drama critic Mortimer Brewster finds he must deal with his mad, murderous family – and the police. Given his predicament, he’s debating whether to go marry the woman he loves, next door neighbor Elaine Harper.

Mortimer’s pair of spinster aunts have taken to “helping lonely old men” by serving them a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced poisons, including “just a pinch” of cyanide.

[Starting in the back row, left to right] As they rehearse for their upcoming production of Arsenic & Old Lace, Dr. Einstein (played by Morgan Barrow) and Jonathan Brewster (played by Gusty Watkins) wish to do away with Mortimer Brewster; while Teddy Brewster  (played by James Stone) is about to dig another “canal” in the basement – all while Mortimer’s girlfriend Elaine Harper  (played by Esther Ehrismann) tries to figure out what the Brewster aunts, Martha and Abby, are planning next.

His uncle Teddy believes he is Theodore Roosevelt, and digs “locks for the Panama Canal” in the cellar of the Brewster home. And, complicating matters, gangster Uncle Jonathan comes to hide out at the house, along with his alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein.

Will the evil Dr. Einstein and sinister Jonathan Brewster do away with Mortimer, after he learns their secrets? Come, enjoy, and find out!

Arsenic & Old Lace opens March 14
This fun show opens on March 14 at 7:00 p.m. and continues the evening of March 15. And, there’s a Family Matinee (yes, this play really is family-friendly) on March 16 at 2:00 p.m.

TICKETS: $8, available at the door. It’s in the Hibbard Theater at Madison High School, 2735 NE 82nd Avenue, 97220.

How will it all turn out for this oddball family?  All is revealed in the Madison High production of Arsenic & Old Lace.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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