When audiences watch the play "Arsenic and Old Lace" at McPherson High School this week, the goal is for them to feel as if they have stepped into a live black-and-white film.
An entirely colorless stage — including sets, costumes, props and actors coated in gray — will help set apart the classic show from other performances.
"It's a cool concept," director Greg McGlynn said, noting it was also one of most difficult aspects of the putting it together. "(The play) is a classic, but I wanted to do it from a unique performance standpoint.
You do feel you're stepping into an old black-and-white movie."
A splash of bright red near the conclusion of the play, however, is meant to jolt attendees from what they will come to expect throughout the performance.
The timeless comedic play surrounds Mortimer Brewster and his less-than-normal family. His family includes: two older aunts who have developed a habit of murdering lonely old men with poisonous wine; a brother who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt; a murderous brother who has recently received plastic surgery to conceal his identity; and a fiancé bent on marrying him.
"It's one of the classics," McGlynn said. "A little bit of a murder-mystery-comedy to it."
It was written by Joseph Kesselring, who taught at Bethel College in North Newton. The play's set features many aspects from the living room in the boarding house Kesselring occupied while there.
McGlynn, who is performing this play for the second time in his 20 years directing high school theater, said one reason he chose the play is because of its Kansas connections.
The theater students have been working on the production for six weeks.
Performers include Nicole Geiselman as Abby Brewster; Anna Baher as Martha Brewster; Ryan Fulcher as Rev. Dr. Harper; John Blake as Teddy Brewster; Emmy Goering as Officer Brophy; Hannah Foster as Officer Klein; Anna Lindholm as Elaine Harper; Micah Black as Mortimer Brewster; Ryan Fulcher as Mr. Gibbs; Kerrick VanAsselt as Jonathan Brewster; Jackson Wingert as Dr. Einstein; Kurt Pascual as Officer O'Hara; Joyanna Burns as Lieutenant Rooney; and Molly Black as Mrs. Witherspoon.
"I think they've hooked into their characters very well," McGlynn said.
The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday at the MHS auditorium. Tickets are $3 for students, $5 for adults and free for senior citizens.
A meal will precede Friday's performance at 6:30 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to dine on stage.
Tickets for the dinner theater are on sale in advance only for $15. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Contact Jenae Pauls at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel