Arsenic & Old Lace

Local theater group turns to online performances

From left, Isaac Bacon (Jonathan Brewster), Dan Martin (Teddy Brewster) and Alan Hobson 
(Dr. Einstein) perform a scene from Arsenic and Old Lace, the Vanity Theater’s latest production.
From left, Isaac Bacon (Jonathan Brewster), Dan Martin (Teddy Brewster) and Alan Hobson (Dr. Einstein) perform a scene from Arsenic and Old Lace, the Vanity Theater’s latest production.
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“Won’t you please have some wine?”

How could anyone refuse two sweet ladies making such a refreshing offer? That’s the question on everyone’s lips in the Vanity Theater’s latest production of the classic Arsenic and Old Lace.

Set in the late 1930’s, Arsenic follows the antics of the Brewster Family. Aunts Martha and Abby, played by Cheri Clark and Mary Taylor, manage an estate right next to a church in Brooklyn. Mortimer Brewster (played by Mike Melvin) is a theater critic in love with his aunt’s beautiful neighbor, Elaine (played by Michaela Semek). Using visits to his relatives as a chance to see Elaine, Mortimer stumbles upon his aunt’s secret and amusingly deadly “charity.” Isaac Bacon portrays Jonathan, a returning sibling with his own murderous ideas who soon leads the band of characters on madcap chase to out do the other before the cops can figure things out.

The cast also includes Alan Hobson, Kurt and Carol Homann, Lora and Adrian Burris, Keith Strain, Alecsandra Baldwin, Nicole Hay, Kenn Clark and Daniel Martin.

Directed by Katie Melvin and produced by Betsy Strain, this Vanity endeavor is under the umbrella of their new Ghost Light Productions. Ghost Light Productions was created as a way to keep the shows going and the theater open during the pandemic. Shows can now be streamed and viewed online for the cost of a single ticket. Donations are being encouraged since the Vanity has also been hit hard during this period.

“Arsenic has been struggling to find an opportunity for a few months,” Katie Melvin said. “We cast it back in March, and it has been held off until the theater could find a way to safely have us on stage. Many parts had to be recast as actors became unavailable, but I believe the final group does an amazing job.”

Mike Melvin was able to step in towards the end of the production to help it out.

“It was definitely tricky to learn all the lines with only a few weeks of rehearsal, but the cast was great, and we pulled it together,” he said.

Rehearsals originally started in March, but they quickly stopped once places began to close over COVID. The Vanity board created a plan to handle the actors being on stage together. Masks were to be worn by anyone entering the building for rehearsals, and only removed when actors were on stage for the the filming and tech week.

“It was a unique experience,” Katie Melvin said. “When they say ‘the show must go on’, they might need to add the word ‘safely’ from now on.”

Arsenic and Old Lace can be found at the Vanity Theater website at www.sugarcreekplayers.org, today through Sunday. Streaming the show costs $12, and there is a place for donations.

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