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Wakefield School Arsenic and Old Lace

By • Nov 3rd, 2008 • Category: Cappies

Two old women lead you into a cozy Brooklyn apartment and hand you a glass of their homemade elderberry wine. Do you take it? In Wakefield School’s performance of Arsenic and Old Lace, this question was answered. Arsenic and Old Lace was written by American Joseph Kesselring in 1939, and the successful show completed 1,444 performances on Broadway. The movie made in 1944 is now a classic.

The style of the 1940s and the Brooklyn backdrop highlight the love story of theater critic Mortimer Brewster (Chris Stone) and girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Gabby Vazzana). Mortimer is troubled by his very unusual family, from his two aunts Abby (Gracie Morrison) and Martha Brewster (Rachel Christian-Fenwick) who kill lonely men with poison-laced elderberry wine, a brother (David Muss) who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt, and another brother Jonathan Brewster, played by an adult, who travels with a plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein (Mike Byrne) who together are killers in their own right.

Wakefield’s camaraderie throughout the cast was translated well into the play. Gracie Morrison and Rachel Christian-Fenwick, playing Abby and Martha Brewster, were a great team and had great chemistry. Although some actors had trouble keeping a straight face at the beginning of the play, everyone on stage committed to their lines to make it a truly funny play. The homicidal pair of Mike Byrne and Andrew Clubb looked like they had been companions for years.

Chris Stone playing Mortimer Brewster brought the part alive. He combined intense lines with comedic lines effectively and delivered them on time. Between being tied to a chair, chasing out a tenant, and kissing his fiancé, Stone was spot on.

Anne Marie Glen, playing Lieutenant Rooney, had a real presence on stage. Even though playing a male role she spoke and forcefully as a Lieutenant in the police force.

Arsenic and Old Lace‘s traditional set is two-stories, but the one roomed stage created a great mood. The set construction team of Zach Tipple, David Muss, Rachel Christian-Fenwick, Chris Stone, and Patrick Penderville made an incredible set with unique furniture and accessories. As an audience member you felt that you were part of the set while cast acted all around you and also in the aisles.

For a play full of laughs and gasps, and an effective mix of intensity and comedy, Wakefield School deserves a round of applause for Arsenic and Old Lace.

by Elizabeth Storey of Osbourn High School

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