Players bring a recipe for hilarity to BAC
September 15, 2004
First it was a Broadway play, then a Warner Bros. film starring Cary Grant.
Now the Proscenium Players bring the dark comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace” to Carson City’s Brewery Arts Center. It was long journey, but one that is of the old school of comedy: rich with mistaken identities and slightly zany characters and without an unsavory word to be heard.
At the helm is 17-year-old director Amy M. Gotham from Incline Village. A freshman at Western Nevada Community College, she is a first-time director. However, she’s not new to the stage, having appeared in, among other things, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at The Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. And watching her at rehearsals is to see a firm mind and a sense of humor at work.
“We’ve got an absolutely wonderful set,” she said, gesturing toward a very substantial living room space, complete with wallpaper and a staircase. “Just awesome.”
Of course, a set isn’t a play, and along the way to Friday night’s opening, to be complete with champagne and hors d’oeuvres after the last curtain, Gotham had her problems.
“We had six actors drop out as we went along, but it worked out just fine, with a perfect cast. They are a group of very versatile actors.”
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Producers are Liz Mitchell and Carla J. Wilson. “Mitchell has been ill, and much of the burden fell to me, but I had wonderful help from the cast and Pat Josten, who did the programs and publicity,” Wilson said.
The leading role is Mortimer Brewster, who takes care of his aunts Abby and Martha. Andrew Johnson, 18, of Dayton is Mortimer, and he admits he watched the Cary Grant film.
“Perfect casting there. When I saw that the play was going to be produced I decided I had to try out,” he said.
Donna Sue Hawkins, who plays Aunt Martha, is having a ball with the role: “I just love the character, she’s a hoot.”
Aunt Abby is played Gail Gunderson of Stagecoach.
“I haven’t acted since college days,” she said, “but it’s so much fun. Abby is so witty and cute; she’s lots of fun to play.”
This is a screwball play peopled with offbeat characters, such as Teddy Brewster, who thinks he’s President Teddy Roosevelt and races upstairs crying, “Charge!” Then there’s Elaine (Melody Ward), Mortimer’s fiancee. She’s a little daunted (understandably) by the two aunts and Teddy.
And there’s Jonathan Brewster who’s not a nice guy at all. And then there are the 12 gentlemen whom the two aunts have had Teddy stash in the basement after they served them tea laced with arsenic.
The plot deals with the problems of handling two dippy aunts who have committed murder and all the slapstick thereby involved. Don’t worry about the story – it’s all fun.
The play was written by veteran Joseph Kesselring and opened in 1944. That makes it 60 years old, but it’s hardly showing its age. If only the rest of us could be as witty at 60.
Contact Sam Bauman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1236.