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Photo by Jason Sibert
Senior Athena Comer rehearses for the production.
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Photo by Jason Sibert
Senior Lacy Cook rehearses for an upcoming production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” at Granite City High School.
When trying to attract an audience to a stage play, it never hurts to stick with the tried and true.
Granite City High School’s Fine Arts Department will stage “Arsenic and Old Lace” at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 15-16, at Granite City High School. Granite City Fine Arts Department Head John Manoogian, who also serves as director, referred to “Arsenic and Old Lace” as “one of the most brilliant comedies ever written.” He also said the material fits the depth of talent in the program this year.
“We have a lot of talented kids in our program this year,” he said. “And this play has a large cast, so it’s a good fit for us.”
“Arsenic and Old Lace” revolves around the lives of the Brewster family. The central character, Mortimer Brewster, lives a life defined by conflict. He copes with his family, which includes two homicidal sisters, while dealing with the police in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the story is set. His sisters, Abby and Martha, poison lonely old men by lacing wine with arsenic, strychnine and cyanide. Both see a humanitarian motivation in their crimes.
“Arsenic and Old Lace,” penned by playwright Joseph Kesselring in 1939, first opened on stages in New York in 1941. But the story is better known through a 1944 film adaptation by famous director Frank Capra.
In the upcoming GCHS production, Lacy Cook will play Abby Brewster and Sydney Miller-Wright will play Martha Brewster. Athena Comer, who appeared in GCHS productions like “Cinderella,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” will portray Elaine Harper, Mortimer’s fiancée. Adding to his already complex life, Mortimer debates himself on his decision to marry Harper.
“This is a more mature role for me,” Comer said. “I’m used to playing younger people or character roles. It’s different for me because I have to be more adult. I have to talk older and my movement isn’t as crazy as a typical teenager.”
Dylan Beasley (Dr. Harper), Ian Cowley (Teddy), Trey Allen (Brophy), Sunny Starko (Klein), Logan Cole (Mortimer Brewster), James Nabors (Mr. Gibbs), Jake Hayes (Einstein), Nick Gerber (O’Hara), Leslie Bell (Rooney) and Alex Kass (Mr. Witherspoon) are also scheduled to act in the play.
Granite City’s theater technology department constructed the production’s only set — the Brewsters’ residence. The tech department studied 1940s housing types to make the set as realistic as possible. Set pieces and costumes were designed with the 1940s in mind. Timing will be key when it comes to solid performances, Manoogian said.
“It can’t be sloppy,” Manoogian said. “It has to be right on. It’s the biggest challenge in working with this group of actors because this involves a little of comedic timing that has not been required of us before. The timing takes a lot of commitment, repetition and practice.”
Those interested in purchasing tickets can call GCHS at (618) 451-5808.