VIENNA, W.Va. – “Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops!”
Mortimer Brewster speaks those words in the classic play “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Ohio Valley University will present its interpretation of Joseph Kesselring’s play on April 26 at 8 p.m., April 27 at 8 p.m., and April 28 at 2 p.m. in Erickson Theatre at OVU. The cost is $5 per ticket.
This dark comedy is set in the 1940s and involves two spinsters named Abby and Martha Brewster, who perform “charitable acts,” but to them, charity means poisoning elderly gentlemen! They are helped by one nephew, Teddy, who believes he’s Theodore Roosevelt. Jonathan, another nephew and a true sociopath, is released from an asylum and returns to the home with his evil partner. Meanwhile, Abby and Martha’s other “normal” nephew, Mortimer, comes home to tell his aunts about his engagement. Mortimer finds himself in the midst of mayhem trying to stop his aunts’ actions and dealing with the police. The play gained widespread fame in 1944 when it became a film starring Cary Grant.
The format is a little different in the OVU presentation. The audience is actually in the home of the Brewsters while the stage is the upstairs to the house. “We want the audience to be part of the show. They are part of the mayhem,” said Maureen Modesitt, director.
The cast and crew include several OVU students, as well as actors from the community. Ashley Fluharty of Preston’s Beauty Academy portrays the fiancé, Elaine Harper. Allen Gleason, a home-schooled student from Ohio, plays the evil Dr. Einstein. OVU student Corey Hughes plays sociopath Jonathan Brewster. Amanda Gleason plays dual roles of Officer O’Hara and Happy Dale Sanitarium superintendent, Witherspoon. Bethy Grizer of the Washington County Career Center plays the darling and murderous, Abby Brewster. Newcomer Matthew McCoy also plays dual roles of Reverend Harper and Officer Rooney. Megan Newbanks, a PHS senior, portrays Officer Klein and is also the assistant director. Austin Perkins, an OVU business student, portrays the kind, but confused, (MORE) PAGE 2/ Arsenic and Old Lace Mortimer Brewster. Ryan Rapp, an OVU math major, plays the out-of-touch Teddy Brewster. Warren High School student, Keon Tullis, performs the dual roles of Officer Brophy and potential renter, Mr. Gibbs. Willow Wright, an OVU senior, portrays the sweet, charming, and deadly, Martha Brewster.
This play was an easy pick for Modesitt.
“It’s a classic. It’s a favorite. Most people you talk to recognize it. Even this generation of students is familiar with the Cary Grant movie. It has a draw and fascination for people,” Modesitt said.
Although Modesitt was already familiar with “Arsenic and Old Lace” when she chose it, she gained greater appreciation for the play while directing it. “I never realized what a genius Joseph Kesselring was. I discovered all the nuances that exist within the play. I have a really high regard for the author and the play itself. It is a masterful piece,” Modesitt said.
Tickets for all the performances can be purchased at the door.
Chartered in 1958, Ohio Valley University is a residential faith-based Tier I institution with four colleges offering 35 undergraduate degrees and a master of education degree to students from 28 states and 14 nations. To learn more about the university, visit www.ovu.edu.