PEQUOT LAKES — Laughter has been in abundance in Pequot Lakes High School’s auditorium for the past five or six weeks. The hilarity emanates from the Pequot Lakes Community Theatre cast, enjoying their rehearsals for one of the funniest and most beloved comedies of the American theatre, Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Pequot Lakes Community Theatre will perform “Arsenic and Old Lace” at 7:30 p.m. March 23-24 and 30-31 and at 2 p.m. March 25 and April 1 of Pequot Lakes High School.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and older and $8 for youths 18 and younger. Tickets may be reserved by calling (218) 568-9200. Tickets will also be available at the door one hour before each performance.
Fifty-plus years after its three-year run on Broadway, Arsenic continues to be one of the most frequently produced comedies on the American stage. In March 2012 alone, audiences will be roaring with delight at “Arsenic and Old Lace” in nearly 50 theaters across the country, including three in Minnesota.
Director Erik Steen knew the play was popular, but was surprised at how many people he’s encountered who were familiar with it. “People who’ve seen ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ ... Tell me about which scene made them laugh the most from their high school or college production, a community theater staging, maybe one of the Guthrie performances, or of course, the Cary Grant movie. People are laughing when they tell me about it.”
What is it that makes this show funny enough to keep people laughing for over 50 years? According to Steen, “It’s the incongruity. After getting to know these charitable, kindly, lovable Brewster sisters, we’re shocked and tickled to see that one of the generous services they provide is putting lonely old men‘out of their misery with a special glass of their homemade elderberry wine, and then disposing of the bodies in the cellar.”
Then there’s the nephew Teddy, who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt; the maniacal nephew Jonathan, who has undergone plastic surgeries at the hands of his murderous accomplice, the likeable Dr. Einstein; the nephew Mortimer, a theatre critic who hates the theatre; the bumbling Brooklyn Police officers; and ingénue, Elaine, because what would any popular play be without the obligatory love story?
“There’s something here for everyone,” Steen said. “If you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen ‘Arsenic and Old Lace,’ here’s your chance to check it off your list. And if you have seen it, I know I don’t need to give you the sales pitch; you already know why you’re going to see it again.”