Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Prince George’s Little Theatre Arsenic and Old Lace

By • Mar 4th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
Prince George’s Little Theatre
Bowie Playhouse, Bowie, MD
Closed Feb. 27th
$15/$10 Students/Seniors
2:20 with one intermission
Reviewed February 26th, 2010

There’s something amusing and recursive about writing a theatrical reviews of plays that concern themselves with theatrical critics. Arsenic and Old Lace is probably best known as Frank Capra’s cinematic tour de force, but it has, at its heart, a good old-fashioned stage feeling about it. The original play, which debuted in 1941, was Joseph Kesselring’s only success, and what a success it was!

The main action revolves around Mortimer Brewster (Kristopher Northrup), a New York drama critic by force, not choice. Elaine Harper (Erica Smith), daughter of the nearby preacher, Reverend Dr. Harper (Bill Jones) is his girl-next-door. His wacky family of lunatics includes Aunts Abby Brewster (Rea Wein) and Martha Brewster (Linda Smith), proper, charitable gentlewomen with the best of intentions and charm. They’re seeking to send poor, lonely men to a better place…sooner, rather than later. They live with Mortimer’s brother, Teddy Brewster (Micky Goldstein), who’s convinced that he is Teddy Roosevelt.

When Mortimer figures out what’s going on in the house, he unleashes a whole new level of funny, starting a cascade of humorous plot twists and turns that only increases when long-lost brother Jonathan Brewster (Roy Hammond) and his alcoholic sidekick Dr. Einstein (Bob Thomson) appear on the scene. Jonathan bears a striking resemblance to Boris Karloff (an inside joke, as the role was originally played by Karloff himself, reprised in the movie).

Enter the local inept constabulary, Officers Brophy (Ken Kienas) and Klein (Keith Brown), in search of Officer O’Hara, (Brian Binney), who has pretensions for the theatre all his own, and the humor goes right over the top. By the time Lieutenant Rooney (Bill Struthers) enters the scene, it’s impossible to stop laughing! He brings down the house.

These characters are icons of the theatre, brought to life by director Gayle Negri, producer Michael O’Donnell and their dee-lightful cast and crew. There’s lovely chemistry between each of the characters. The set includes exceptional attention to detail, as do the costumes, wigs, make-up and more. A few teensy technical glitches were nothing in comparison to the overall excellent production, and might be attributed more to the total mess made by this season’s snow.

It’s unfortunate that this review is being written at the end of the run at Bowie’s White Marsh Playhouse. PGLT is in its 50th season and shows all the time and experience well. This is community theatre at its finest! If you have the opportunity, see the show!

Director’s Notes

I first met the Brewster family 25 years ago. While I found them a little eccentric, they all have good hearts and only the best of intentions. I was endeared to this family because of their innocence and desire to help anyone they met even if that meant killing them! Abby and Martha are everyone’s favorite aunts while Teddy is that uncle you humor, but never talk about. We hope that our branch of the Brewster family tree brings you a smile and a giggle and makes you ponder what YOU can do to help your lonely neighbors.


  • Abby Brewster: Rea Wein
  • Reverend Dr Harper: Bill Jones
  • Teddy Brewster: Micky Goldstein
  • Officer Brophy: Ken Kienas
  • Officer Klein: Keith Brown
  • Martha Brewster: Linda Smith
  • Elaine Harper: Erica Smith
  • Mortimer Brewster: Kristopher Northrup
  • Mr. Gibbs: Bill Struthers
  • Jonathan Brewster: Roy Hammond
  • Dr Einstein: Bob Thomson
  • Officer O’Hara: Brian Binney
  • Lieutenant Rooney: Bill Struthers
  • Mr. Witherspoon: Bill Jones

Production Team:

  • Director: Gayle Negri
  • Producer: Mike O’Donnell
  • Stage Manager: Linda Sellner
  • Running Crew: Andy Negri, Pamela Northrup
  • Set Design: Dan Lavanga
  • Set Construction, Master Carpenter: Dan Lavanga
  • Assisted by: Cast, Crew, Members, and Friends of PGLT
  • Set Painting Design: Roy Hammond and Gayle Negri
  • Set Decoration/Dressing Design: Roy Hammond and Gayle Negri
  • Lighting Design: Garrett Hyde
  • Sound Design: Den Giblin
  • Properties Design: Pamela Northrup
  • Assisted by: The Cast
  • Costume Coordination: Rose English-Arredondo
  • Assisted by: Eddie Arredondo, Lucas English-Arredondo
  • Special Makeup Design: Roy Hammond
  • Hair Design: Linda Smith, Rae Wein, Malca Giblin
  • Bowie Playhouse Theatre Technicians: Al Chopey, Pete Dursin, Garrett Hyde
  • Transportation Chief: Keith Brown
  • Front of House Coordinator: Eugenia Sorgnit
  • House Manager: Roy Peterson
  • Box Office Manager: Sarah Potter Robbins
  • Box Office Assistant: Richard Robbins
  • Playbill Design/Lobby Display: Roy Peterson
  • Ticket Takers/Ushers: Members and Friends of PGLT
  • Publicity: Jenna Jones, Roy Peterson
  • Web Site ( Kristofer Northrup, Pamela Northrup
  • Photography: Kristofer Northrup
  • Program Cover/Publicity Artwork: Michele Stinson

Disclaimer: Prince George’s Little Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.

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