Senior Oliver Baucus (left), junior Ben Ayers, senior Madison Lobos and senior Amy Huebner rehearse for Roxana High School’s upcoming production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Roxana High School theater director Debbie Bacus is looking forward to her crew’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
The performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22.
“I want them, the students-actors, to have a good audience,” Bacus said. “I’ve never been disappointed on that one.”
Experienced with high school theater, Bacus began directing at RHS eight years ago. Her husband, Mark, has worked on plays at both Alton High School and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and will co-direct the play.
Preparations began in early September, when Bacus met with those who were interested to provide information on commitments required of cast and crew. Auditions soon followed. After cast decisions, the actors rehearsed for eight weeks.
“Arsenic and Old Lace,” a black comedy penned by Joseph Kesselring in 1939, revolves around the Brewsters, a family that puts the dysfunctional in dysfunctional. Famous director Frank Capra directed the 1944 film version. Teddy, the central character’s (Mortimer Brewster) brother, thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt. Mortimer’s other brother Jonathan is a criminal. The bizarre characters make for some bizarre happenings. Mortimer finds a corpse in a window seat and thinks Teddy is responsible but finds out that Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha are the ones to blame.
“This is a very dark piece,” Baucus said. “But it’s also humorous ... dark humor.”
Senior Oliver Bacus, Debbie’s son, will play Mortimer, senior Amy Huebner will play Aunt Abby, and senior Madison Lobos will play Aunt Marsha. In addition, junior Ben Ayers will portray Teddy, senior Brandon Bosomworth will portray Jonathan Brewster and senior Nick Thompson will portray Dr. Einstein, Mortimer’s sidekick.
“We have to make sure they understand their character,” Bacus said. “And they also have to understand the emotion and physical presence, action and how to project their voice into the back row.”
The play utilizes just one set, the living room of the Brewster residence, but the audience won’t lack for visual variety, as there is an abundance of coming and going throughout. RHS’ industrial arts department, led by teacher Nathan Smay, constructed a skeleton of the set.
Those interested in attending the play can purchase tickets ($6 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens) at the school at the time of performance.
On Nov. 21, the auditorium at the high school will be renamed after Birdine Groshong, a former RHS English, speech and drama teacher.
For information, call (618) 254-7553.