'Arsenic and Old Lace' is a night of fun

June 04, 1993|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

What do two little old ladies, a mass murderer who travels with his own plastic surgeon and a man who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt have in common?

They're all related. And they're all crazy.

The South Carroll High School Stagelighters will bring these and other characters to life in Joseph Kesserling's play "Arsenic and Old Lace" at 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow in the school auditorium, 1300 W. Old Liberty Road, Winfield.

The all-student comedy relates the story of two elderly sisters who poison lonely old men and bury them in the basement of their home. The hilarity is advanced by the sisters' nephews -- Jonathan, an escaped convict; Teddy, who thinks he's the former president; and Mortimer, the only sane one in the family.

"The ladies kill 12 men by putting arsenic in their wine, and every body's a little bit crazy," said Dan Bickish, who co-directs and plays Mortimer. "Teddy buries the dead men -- he thinks the basement is the Panama Canal locks and the men yellow fever victims."

Mortimer, even though he's sane, tries to cover up his aunts' murders when he finally realizes what's happening.

Senior Jenny Blair and junior Callie Cornelius play Abbey and Martha, respectively.

"We changed the play a little to suit our purposes -- we poison anybody who's elderly and lonely," said Callie. "We don't really kill them, it's for charity. They're sad, lonely old people, so we put them out of their misery by poisoning them."

"We put the arsenic in wine because it's less noticeable," Jenny said. "You put it in tea and it has a very distinctive odor."

The ladies are very matter-of-fact about their "charity" work, which keeps the laughter going as they continue to kill people until the very end of the play.

The students decided they wanted to do the entire production without benefit of faculty advice. The Stagelighters picked the play, held the auditions and picked the actors, put together the set, did the lighting, and got the costumes and props.

"The only help we had from the faculty was from Carl Miller, the carpentry teacher, who helped build the steps," Dan said.

"This is the first time for a two-level play at this school. The scene is in a two-level house, so we constructed the steps for a balcony scene."

Many students have pitched in and done two jobs. The actors and lighting crew have helped with the set, while others have worked with props, a program and tickets.

"Everybody chips in because you don't have the teachers helping you," Dan said.

Tickets for "Arsenic and Old Lace" are $3 at the door. Information: 795-8100.

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