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2009-10 Theatre Season to Open With 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

Kesselring's play to feature a cast of professional and Northwestern student actors

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October 23, 2009 | by Judy Moore

Cindy Gold and Mary Poole are cast as the two seemingly lovable Brewster sisters in "Arsenic and Old Lace," running through Nov. 8 at the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University's Ethel M. Barber Theater. The elderly sisters have a deadly secret for the lonely old gentlemen who appear on their doorstep looking for lodging.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Tony Award-winning director and Northwestern alumnus Frank Galati will open the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University's 2009-10 Mainstage Season with Joseph Kesselring's "Arsenic and Old Lace," an entertainingly macabre play of murder and mayhem.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24; 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25; 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29; 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30; 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31; 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1; 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5; 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6; 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University's Evanston campus.

The 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace" is part of "A Celebration of Acting at Northwestern: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" and Reunion Weekend. That night, the production will be followed by a salute to Northwestern acting alumni and a post-show talkback and reception.

The classic farce will feature Northwestern alumnus and Victory Gardens Theatre founder and artistic director Dennis Zacek, Chicago actor John Mohrlein and award-winning Northwestern acting faculty members Cindy Gold and Mary Poole.

"Arsenic" centers on two seemingly lovable Brewster sisters who are performing mercy killings with the help of their nephew Teddy, who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt. But the elderly sisters have a deadly secret for the lonely old gentlemen who appear on their doorstep looking for lodging.

"These sweet and lovely aunts have a yearning to euthanize old men without families," said Gold, who will be portraying one of the two sisters. "In their minds, they think they are helping these lonely old men find peace."

"Arsenic" is set during a 24-hour period in fall 1939 -- the same year that Kesselring wrote the comedy. Seventy years later, the comedy continues to make audiences laugh with its perfectly-timed dialogue and unusual family psychology, Gold said.

"There's this great rivalry between the aunts and their bad nephew, John Brewster, who insists that he has killed 13 people -- one more than the Brewster sisters have poisoned with their elderberry wine. Frank Galati is a master of comedy, and the production has these great cartoon-like moments," said Gold.

Galati also is a professor emeritus of performance studies at Northwestern University's School of Communication.
In addition to the two professional actors and two Northwestern faculty members, who also act professionally, the cast will feature seven Northwestern undergraduates and one graduate student.

"With a ghostly Victorian set and sinister lighting respectively designed by Northwestern alumnae Collette Pollard and Sarah Hughey, costume design by Jeff Award-winning Virgil C. Johnson, and sound design by Northwestern faculty member Josh Horvath, ‘Arsenic' represents a ‘dream team' of some of the finest talents in Chicago and on campus," said Theatre and Interpretation Center artistic director Henry Godinez.

"Arsenic and Old Lace" is a two-act play suitable for teenagers and adults with a running time of less than two hours.

Single ticket prices for "Arsenic and Old Lace" are $25 for the general public; $22 for seniors 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 or full-time students.

Subscriptions for the 2009-10 Mainstage Season are on sale now. Both single tickets and subscriptions may be purchased through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or online at www.tic.northwestern.edu.

NORTHWESTERN NEWS: www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

Topics: Campus Life