‘New twists to an old favorite’: Marion Art Center opens season with ‘Arsenic & Old Lace’

Mar 5, 2024

MARION – Donn Tyler’s brother-in-law is driving all the way from Vermont to see the Marion Art Center’s performance of “Arsenic & Old Lace.”

That’s partly because Tyler, the director of the play, is involved in the show. But it’s also just because it’s “Arsenic & Old Lace.” It is the favorite play of many, according to Tyler.

The farcical comedy, written by Joseph Kesselring and which first opened in 1941, has “more legs than most,” Tyler said. A film adaptation released in 1944 starred Cary Grant.

“A lot of people have very fond memories of this,” he said.

The show follows the Brewster family, which includes two older ladies who kill people, a man who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt and plays the bugle, and a psychopathic older brother.

It’s a family in which every member is crazy in some way, and that may be why the show has resonated for over eight decades.

“It’s like everybody’s family, right?” Tyler said. “They’re all crazy.”

The cast – “a great group of people,” Tyler said – includes Chris Clark as Mortimer Brewster, Jacqueline Sophia as Elaine Harper, Bethany Lamoureux as Martha Brewster, Ann-Marie Foley as Abby Brewster, and Jack Boesen as Teddy Brewster. Kiah Allaire is the show’s assistant director.

For the run at the Marion Art Center, some casting is “unusual,” according to Tyler. Though the show remains itself, viewers may still be surprised.

“I think it would be fair to say, we’re giving some new twists to an old favorite,” Tyler said. “So even for people who love the play and have seen it five times, this will be a slightly different version. And for people who are seeing it for the first time, it’s a good comedy. It’s funny.”

“Arsenic & Old Lace” opens at the Marion Art Center’s Anne Braitmayer Webb Theater on Friday, March 8 and continues Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10. Performances will also be held the following two weekends. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday shows are 2 p.m. matinees.