Arsenic and Old Lace
A Pinedale High School Play
by Terry Allen
March 15, 2018
On Monday March 12, 2018 at 1:30 in the afternoon, The Pinedale High School Drama Department put on a matinee performance of Arsenic and Old Lace (also evening performances on the 12th & 13th…remember those numbers).
Mr. Smith, Mr. Allen and all the student actors, makeup artists, and stage managers kindly agreed to let me stage a lot of my photos before the play began. Because of this, they may not be in their actual costumes or full makeup in all the photographs. In fact, for all three performances, the actors played different roles.
On Monday noon, a young woman might be the starring love interest and in the evening she might be in the role of a policewoman…and so on. I also wanted to illustrate the part our imaginations play, by showing what is behind various stage doors, etc., like the door to the cellar where the bodies are buried.
Speaking of bodies…
Two sweet old Aunties live in a stately Victorian home next door to a graveyard. On Sundays they place flowers on some of the graves. On the other side of the graveyard is a grand old church administered by a respected man of the cloth. Life appears to have gone well for them.
The Aunties adopted and raised their nephew Mortimer, who became a successful bachelor and a big time New York drama critic. In the afternoon or evenings, the Aunties might entertain friends…or lonely old widowers…with tea, or a very special homemade elderberry wine.
Mortimer has an adorable girlfriend who he has no intention of marrying. The part is cast and played so well I’m sure everyone in the audience wonders what’s wrong with Mortimer. From that point on, we are introduced to oddity after family oddity. Mortimer’s uncle Teddy also lives in the home and he is either rambunctiously pulling out his saber and charging up San Juan Hill (stairs) or descending into the cellar to dig the Panama Canal. Yes, Teddy thinks he is Roosevelt before he became The Prez.
Mortimer takes a breather on the window seat to contemplate his life and for some reason opens it…and finds a body inside. This sends him into a frantic state that lasts throughout the play. He confronts the Aunties and they are matter of fact about it, rationalize it; and Teddy comes and drags the body off to the Panama Canal.
Mortimer takes stock and realizes there are 3 crazies to his 1 in his family. That is when his long lost brother appears. Jonathan had disappeared into a bad life years earlier and Mortimer had been happy he’d gone away. Unfortunately, Jonathan came back with a "friend" who is also a plastic surgeon who keeps changing Jonathan’s appearance…using the faces of people he killed to stay one step ahead of the law. Now, it was 4 crazies to 1, and Mortimer begins to think he has the same insane murder gene and his own crime spree is just around the corner…so he insists on immediately getting married to the innocent Elaine… presumably before she finds out he is crazy and won’t.
He also recognizes the medicinal value of alcohol and decides it’s time he start coping by drinking… the very special elderberry wine. When the Aunties won’t let him drink and he learns the reason why is the 12 bodies buried in the cellar (who’s wealth presumably supports his family), he decides to invest in a cover up, a compassionate framing of his Uncle Teddy… and maybe a murder of his own… before going off on his honeymoon.
I won’t be a spoiler and tell you all the ending. Our library has the Movie starring Cary Grant.
I don’t know why no one has done a musical version of this play before. I have found myself making up and singing the most delightful little murder ballad. Next time you see me, ask me to sing you the tune… and you can try my delicious elderberry wine, too.
Terry Allen: email@example.com
Directors: Greg Allen and Justin Smith
Mortimer: Jaxon Buchanan, Jake Harber
Martha: Kodie Egle, Jenna Roadifer
Jonathan: Anthony Goulette
Abby: Aaliyah Harford-Stevens, Katie Wycoff
Teddy: Shyla Orders
Elaine: Ivy Porter, Baylee White
Mr. Gibbs: Ashleigh Hultquist
Lieutenant Rooney: Senddey Gutierrez
Officer Brophy: Riley Dauwen, Olivia Young
Officer Klein: Emma McCulloch
Officer O’Hara: Preslie Simkins, Bryce Van Etten
Dr. Einstein: Hunter Westercamp
Dr. Harper, Mr. Witherspoon, Corpse: Corbin Woolstenhulme
Tech Director: Patrick Rookus
Set Design & Construction: Greg Allen
Props & Set Painting: Madeleine Murdock, Elaine Crumpley, Sharron Ziegler
Stage Manager: Mackenzie Miller
Costuming: Ashleigh Hultquist, Megan Anspach
Makeup/Hair: Preslie Simkins
Lights: Liam Fallon
Sound/Tech Manager: Nate Miller
Ticket Sales: Bethany Essington
Set Construction: JJ Lopez-Bandin
Jay Harnack and SCSD#1 School Board
Principal Brian Brisko and administrative staff
Cydnee Alfrey and Emery Kemp for publicity
Patrick Rookus and auditorium staff
Mrs. Robertson and the Leadership class
Office Outlet and NAPA Auto Parts for selling ticket