The Howler

The Howler

“Arsenic and Old Lace”, Another Success for the BFUHS Drama Club

Lia Clark, Editor

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“Ten out of ten” (Jaden Luebbert); “Very convincing acting. Hilarious! (Emily Basin); “I couldn’t stop laughing” (Meagan Kelly), “Comedic interpretation of a dark subject that is portrayed very well by the BFUHS drama club!” (Bradie Harris).

After “Arsenic and the Old Lace” was performed to the public on December first and second by the BFUHS drama club, fans filled my note-book with positive and exciting comments. Yet again, Director Katy Emond has produced a spectacular – not to mention hilarious – production at BFUHS.

My night at the theatre began when the curtains opened, and though nearly two hours passed, the time seemed to fly by in minutes. Emily Wunderle and Grace Thompson brought the simple and naive humor of elderly sisters Abby and Martha Brewster, respectively, to life. Impressively, they managed to remain serious in comedic situations.  For example, they calmly responded with, “We never dreamed you’d peek,” when their dramatic drama-critic nephew, Mortimer Brewster, played by Alden Parmelee, found a dead body in their window seat. Parmelee was truly the comedic highlight of the show, portraying his character with suave and wit as he dealt with the “nasty habit” that his two seemingly innocent Aunts had developed. The Aunts believed they were doing charity work by killing lonely old men by offering them poison wine. Later, the kindly women were about to kill another old man, Mr. Gibbs, played by Kendra Atkin, when Mortimer himself almost drank the poison! I screamed “No!” as I was watching, convinced that he was going to die, but the sisters stopped him before he drank the wine. Realizing what they were doing, Mortimer grabbed the wine and proceeded to throw it into the audience.

The show took its first surprising twist when Mortimer’s long-lost and deranged younger brother Jonathan Brewster, played by Zoe Schemm, reappeared in his life. Jonathan was on the run from the police, having just killed his twelfth victim with his side kick Dr. Einstein – (“Not Albert Einstein”) – played by Jackson Maiocco. Maiocco was an excellent fit for this role, producing a consistent and accurate eastern European accent that intensified the humor involved with his character. Schemm also did a wonderful job bringing the evil insanity of Jonathan to life on stage. With the appearance of the two companions, Mortimer suddenly had to deal with two dead bodies and his increasingly insane family members.

Caught up in the crisis of the moment, Mortimer brushed aside his fiancee Elaine Harper (played by Jessica Roberts) daughter of Rev. Dr. Harper (played by Lorelei Jones). Curious, Harper unintentionally walked into the hands of Jonathan and Dr. Einstein who try to kill her! She survived, luckily, and Roberts did an excellent job in this instant, convincing me that she was truly afraid!

As the story unfolds, three police officers, Brophy, Klein, and O’Hara, (Sam Bridge, Charles Bennett, and Olivia Lauricella) enter the scene, adding to the intensity of the show – and the humor because none of the officers realize they are in the presence of killers! Officer O’Hara, played with a convincing Irish accent by Lauricella, even believed that Jonathan had tied up Mortimer for fun – when really he intended to kill his brother!

Once freed, Mortimer searched for a way to pin everything on his younger brother Teddy, played by Andrew Malshuk, who believed he was actually Teddy Roosevelt! At the end, Lieutenant Rooney (Grace Cavanagh) comes to the Brewster home and arrests Jonathan, allowing Dr. Einstein to get away free.  The show ironically comes to a close when Abby and Martha offer the lonely old leader of the Happy Dale home for the insane, Mr. Witherspoon (Anika Larsen), a glass of their homemade (poisonous) elderberry wine.

Overall, I enjoyed this production very much. The set was beautiful, the acting outstanding, and the humor kept me laughing all night. I spoke with Wunderle after the performance, and she said, “I learned how to murder people and not get in trouble!”

Congratulations to the cast and crew for a job well done! A comment made by Ethan Lauricella sums up perfectly the BFUHS performance of Arsenic and Old Lace… “It was to die for.”

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