‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ opens at Prime Stage Theater
It’s one of the old warhorses of Broadway theater and yet a play that never goes out of style.
“Arsenic and Old Lace” returns to the stage this weekend as the final show of the 2021-22 season for the Prime Stage Theater company.
The play officially opens at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side on Saturday night at 8 p.m. and will run until May 15. (A preview of “Pay What You Can” is scheduled for Friday night.)
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a dark comedy that tells the story of two elderly sisters named Brewster who poison lonely old men who come to their Brooklyn home looking for a place to live. It’s not as dark as it sounds, but rather a wild affair that The New York Times called “so funny none of us will ever forget” when it opened in 1941.
“It came out just when WWII looked like something America was going to have to get involved in, so it served as (a distraction) at the time and hopefully it can play a part. similar here 80 years later,” said director Liam Macik, a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School.
The play is famous for the character of Jonathan Brewster, a role originated by horror actor Boris Karloff who basically did makeup that made him look like he had bad plastic surgery. At the time, Karloff was best known for playing the monster in the original “Frankenstein” movie version.
In this production, Jonathan is played by local actor Alex Blair. Suzanne Ward and Lynne Franks play homicidal Brewster sisters Martha and Abby, and John Feightner is her brother Teddy, who thinks he’s “Teddy Roosevelt.”
“His stamina is remarkable,” Macik said. “The script is so good it’s almost bulletproof. You can see high school kids doing it, you can see it on Broadway. You can see the Hollywood point of view and it kills every time.
Because of this, Macik said he was careful before making any changes or updates to the script.
“I really didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with this because it’s such a beloved classic. When people come to see it, they expect certain things,” he said. period performance of goofy ’40s comedies, but you also have to mix that with the elements of gothic horror and the universal sense of monster movie horror that’s there.”
One thing that will be different from the original stage version, Macik said, is that there will only be one 15-minute intermission instead of two 10-minute intermissions.
Call the New Hazlett for ticket information at 412-320-4610 or visit newhazletttheater.org.
Paul Guggenheimer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]