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Arsenic and Old Lace
a Comedy
by Joseph Kesselring

COMPANY : Blackwell Playhouse
VENUE : Blackwell Playhouse
ID# 2540

SHOWING : January 04, 2008 - January 28, 2008



Friday and Saturday nights through January. 8pm shows

Director Beth DiYenno
Abby Brewster Barbara Bruce
Teddy Brewster Joey Cochran
Officer O'Hara Lee Cox
Elaine Harper Becky Dever
Martha Brewster Helene Holzman
Lieutenant Rooney Steven Lincoln
Dr. Einstein Glenn Nadel
Rev. Harper/ Mr. Witherspoon Steve Raper
Jonathan Brewster Lee Sanders
Officer Brophy Stephen R. Sisson
Mortimer Brewster Kevin Tillery
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Not great but not horrible
by theaterislife
Sunday, February 3, 2008
I saw the closing performance of Arsenic and Old Lace at Blackwell. This is a theater that is close so I go quite often to the shows there. I see they are trying to get better bit by bit so that's fine. Of all the shows I have seen at Blackwell I was quite impressed with the set in this particular show. It seemed like a "real" house and living room. Of course it was a little gaudy for my taste but when compared to one of my older family member's works.

The lighting, we have to do something about the lighting there. I don't think it's the operator of the lights more so than the lights themselves. There were dark spots all over the place too much light in other places and it just wasn't working for me. I think they need a major overhaul of the lighting system in general.

I really hope the seats can get fixed soon. I know it takes money but the arm rest of my seat kept shifting and falling off. I'd put it back on it would fall back off.. you get the drift. Also I still saw there was duct tape holding the pads on some of the chairs... please get that fixed, it's just tacky.

As for the show itself I found the first half excrutiatingly slow and downright boring. If it had been any slower we would have been at a stand still. Both of the aunts (one more so than the other) did not know their lines quite a bit and this was the last show!!! I was shocked about that. I know many of the cast were sick and they pushed through it so I applaud them for going on with the show. The staging was off at times and the actors appeared if they were directed to only stand in a straight line center stage or just off center. Some of the stage crosses seemed a little disconnected too. Actually the direction was a little painful to watch at times and the actors didn't know what to do with themselves. I felt like a few people fell out of character quite a bit especially if a line was flubbed. Things did (thankfully) pick up during the last half of the show.

I thought Joey Cochran was wonderful and an excellent choice of comic relief as Teddy Brewster. Without him and his quick comedic timing this show would have sunk to dreary depths I'm afraid. Becky Dever and Kevin Tillery as Elaine and Mortimer had a wonderful chemistry between each other and portrayed their characters quite nicely. Lee Sanders was perfect as the sinister Johnathan Brewster and played the villan with just the right amount of menace. These four individuals were the only anchors for this production.

Some of the supporting characters held their own but unfortunately it was the lack of memorization and poor direction at times which makes me give this production a 3.0 (and part of me feels I am being generous but maybe it was that wind down and final show mentality that kicked in???). [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
"ARSENIC" Leaves a Bad Taste.
by glenda da good
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
No offense to RANDOM REVEIWER but did you see the same play at Blackwell Playhouse that I did ????? Far from being a riot it was more like a train wreck--one that went on for what seemed like three hours. While some things were good about the production --I must admit I have seen better "ARSENIC AND OLD LACE" done by high schoolers. Perhaps the director(s) are to blame for the complete lack of imagination or original thought in the whole proceedings. I could only imagine that the blocking came from the acting edition of the script because very little of the movement made any sense. Characters seemed to wander aimlessly about the stage(especially the two Aunts). Perhaps the mantle of being director and the lead actor is to expalin Kevin Tillery's completely over the top rendering of Mortimer. He screamed, and jumped about the stage often speaking over the lines of the other actors. This boy had more mugs than a Starbuck's Coffee Shop. I know Kesselring intended the comedy to be broad but Tillery was embarrasing to watch. The two Aunts (Bruce and Holzman) were sweet and dottering---while they broke no new ground with thier unique characterization they were mostly (except for forgotten lines) enjoyable.
Joey Chochran (with the plumb role of Teddy)was funny and sweet despite an accent that was far, far south of Brooklyn. Becky Deavers as Elaine Harper did provide a unique take on the Pastor's daughter with her sexed up portrayal--but at least she brought something new to the play.
Now to say something positive. The backbone of the entire play rests on the capable shouldrers of Lee Sanders (Jonathan Brewster) and his comic sidekick Dr. Einstein (Glann Nadel). Nadel is a Blackwell favorite and I've seen all his schtick time and again--however he plays a charming little old man if not an orginal one. Sanders as the Karloff looking Jonathan was understated (take note Tillery) and managed to bring humor to a menacing role. Kudos also to his makeup artist who scarred him enough to be believable but not so much as to detract from his fine acting.
Fially--we all know the cliche about no small parts---well two actors in particular got things so right I want to mention them sepparately. As two bumbling policemen: Stephen Sisson's Officer Brophy and Steve Lincoln's Lt. Rooney are simply amazing to watch. Sharing not more than 15 minutes of stage time between them they provide a much needed comic boost to the end of the play.
Sisson's clueless but sweet Officer Brophy is a sort Brooklyn "Barney Fife" to Lincoln's New York styled "Andy Griffith". Their scene together near the end of the play provides a much needed boost to the long second act. Lincoln's spit soaked (usually aimed at Sisson's face) is a scream and a thoroughly original portrayal.
Lastly, the set and set dressing was lovely and period (hardly ever seen in community theatre and almost never at Blackwell).
It's kind of hard to mess up a great American play like ARSENIC AND OLD LACE but somehow Tillery and most of his cast managed to.
Better luck next time !!!!!!

Disjointed and confused
by g8grrl
Monday, January 21, 2008
I was real disappointed seeing this show this past weekend. I have friends involved with the show, so I really wanted this to be good. And there are some nice performances with Arsenic, but not enough to save the show. Two reasons why this show fails. First, the direction seems very immature to me. People walked around stage with no sense of purpose. The blocking was disjointed and confused. The scenes didn't really click together, and I felt I was watching the first run thru, complete with actors not knowing their lines Second, the lead actor just doesn't have the energy and comedic chops to pull off the demanding role of Mortimer Brewster. I really liked this same actor last year in Mockingbird, but here he is very miscast, completely over his head. Still I liked some of the supporting performances enough to give this a C grade, especially Jonathan Brewster and Elaine Harper. But pleeeez aunts, learn your lines already. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
I really enjoyed the show!
by RandomReviewer!!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Well first of all, it was flat out histarical! Anyway, Mortimer Brewster, (Kevin Tillery) did a wonderful job, but I thought he hadn't changed all the way from Atticus Finch just yet. When he is at the phone at times he gets loud and sometimes he may get to a quieter voice, that may be too quiet for people in the third or fourth row to hear. Teddy Brewster (Joey Cochran) I loved Teddy's scenes! In the first scene, I laughed but not as hard as I would've liked, he must've been warming up, but it was kinda weak.Kudos for you! Aunt Abby (Barbra Bruce) Was good very good. I caught her mumbling to Martha, I'm guessing lines were tossed and turned during a few hectic scenes. She still was in character,a sweet amount of insanity. Martha Brewster (Helene Holzman) was good like Abby, but I kept seeing her fade out of character a couple of times when she was sort of in the background. I give credit to the police men, very good job but, Officer O'hara I suggest, be more comical. Elaine Harper (Becky Dever) was so funny! She did a very good job harassing Mortimer. She was always in character. Kudos for you and Mortimer! Last but certainly not least, Jonathan Brewster, or should I say Woodroe Wilson, (Lee Sanders) stole the show. He was funny, in character. Jonathan is a very strong character mixed with comical bits and he pulled it the whole nine yards. Deffinately Kudos for you! Also Mr. Witherspoon was good, a bit flat at times but I give you Kudos for the funny ending with your life and the show. The set was good, and in time period, it always seems to get on my nerves when it isn't. The table was a bit far but I could see the light stance forced it to be there. Speaking of lights they were good, except when they are carrying the dead bodies, it needs to be a tad bit darker enough that you can see, but not so clearly for the audience. That's all for now! Great show!! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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