Arsenic and Old Lace
January 25th - February 10, 2019
We are delighted to have an all star cast for this production.
Inspiration for Arsenic and Old Lace
When Kesselring taught at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, he lived in a boarding house called the Goerz House, and many of the features of its living room are reflected in the Brewster sisters' living room, where the action of the play is set. The Goerz House is now the home of the college president. Bethel College was a school of the pacifist Mennonite church. The play appeared at a time of strong isolationist sentiment regarding European affairs.
The "murderous old lady" plot line may also have been inspired by actual events that occurred in a house on Prospect St in Windsor, Connecticut, where a woman, Amy Archer-Gilligan, took in boarders, promising "lifetime care", and poisoned them for their pensions. M. William Phelps book The Devil's Rooming House tells the story of the police officers and reporters from the Hartford Courant who solved the case. Kesselring originally conceived the play as a heavy drama, but it is widely believed that producers Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (who were also well known as play doctors) convinced Kesselring that it would be much more effective as a comedy.
Written by Joseph Kesselring
Directed by Michael Ross
Don’t miss this iconic black comedy by American playwright Joseph Kesselring, written in 1939, and directed by award winning Michael Ross (GYSPY! Always, Patsy Cline). Debuting on Broadway in 1941, it ran for three years and over fourteen hundred performances. Exploring themes of family loyalty, nature versus nurture, and whether we can ever truly break away from our family’s influence, Arsenic and Old Lace was praised for its dark, screwball comedy tone with The New York Times theater critic declaring it one of the funniest plays he’d ever seen! We’re betting this zany, crazy and pure fun show will be one of the season’s favorites!
Executive Producer - Buffy Miller/Clay Foundation West
Co-Produced by Valerie Pistole and Jeff Walter