From doe-eyed Aunt Martha to the kooky nephew Teddy, the St. George Musical Theater production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” is sure to keep you laughing from beginning to end. This dark comedy is about two elderly sisters who feel it’s their calling to help the lonely old bachelors who come to rent out a spare bedroom in their home pass on into the next life, then burying them in their cellar. Seeing nothing wrong with it, they let one of their other nephews, drama critic Mortimer, in on their little secret. He, of course, is completely in shock at the revelation, and the fun ensues! Mortimer tries to protect his aunts and help them come to the realization of their wrongdoings at the same time, and he has one heck of a time doing so with all the visitors that come to call, all while still trying to maintain his job, his fiance, and his sanity!
The whole play takes place in Aunt Martha and Aunt Abby’s front room and parlor. The floral wallpaper, lacy white table cloth, doilies on every piece of furniture, and peppermint hard candies are sure to bring back memories of your own grandmother’s house. They always made sure that their guests were well-fed before sending them on their way, just like grandma.
Their costumes were perfectly fitting: Martha and Abby (played by Karlene Young and Rachel Parry) wore high-waisted skirts with tucked in button-up blouses, their hair perfectly pulled up and coifed. Mortimer’s fiance, Elaine (played by Missy Potash), had her beautiful blonde hair curled and pinned up, wearing her knee-length skirts and suit jacket top. The men wore sweater vests and large suit jackets with their hair slicked back. Then there’s Teddy, the nephew who believes himself to be Theodore Roosevelt (played by Alfie Deming), who seemed to wear whatever he (or the former president) was in the mood for—sometimes dressed for a safari, other times something fancier.
Kudos to the director, Varlo Davenport, for his casting choices. Everyone was absolutely brilliant, funny, and entertaining, and not once did anyone in the audience reach for their phone out of boredom. Mortimer, however, was a standout. In the role of Mortimer, Joel Thomas was charismatic and animated and used the whole stage to his advantage, and he made the show what it was. One of the best parts would have to be when he was describing a part in a play that he had seen, showing Dr. Einstein so he could see for himself, not knowing that right behind him was his own brother, Jonathan, who was taking all of his pointers and using them against Mortimer! The naivete and cluelessness of the policemen also added a very humorous element to the show.
In the words of my husband, who is not a fan of plays, “I would definitely go see ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ again.”
“Arsenic and Old Lace” runs at the Historic St. George Opera House at 212 N. Main St. in St. George from Oct. 1-31, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Oct. 17 and a special Halloween matinee on closing night. Ticket prices range from $17 to $21 each and can be purchased by visiting sgmusicaltheater.com or by calling (866) 967-8167. A special season ticket package is offered for a limited time. For more information, call (435) 628-8755.