McPherson High Main Stage Theatre Arts presents Arsenic and Old Lace

By The McPherson Sentinel

Nov. 18 through 20. MHS Theatre will have Performances at 7:00 PM at The Historic McPherson Opera House. A unique showing of this live performance will be in living black and white (as if watching a classic black and white film) but live in stage.       

Mortimer Brewster (played by Dane Partain) is living a happy life: he has a steady job at a prominent New York newspaper, he’s just become engaged to Elaine Harper (Analicia Rocha), who lives next door and is the daughter of the local minister (Landon Pelzel). Mortimer visits his sweet spinster aunts, Abby (Macyn Ward) and Martha (Merris Neighbors) Brewster, who raised him to announce his engagement. Mortimer warns his fiancé, "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops." Mortimer always knew that his family, though descended from the Mayflower settlers, was a bit mad—his brother Teddy (Noah Gregory) thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and that his great-grandfather used to scalp Indians for pleasure.                                                                                 

But Mortimer’s world is turned upside down when he realizes that his dear aunts have been charitably, in their opinion, poisoning lonely old men like Mr. Gibbs (Gracie Nelson) with their special elderberry wine for years.             

When Mortimer’s maniacal brother Jonathan (Pierce Hamma), who now inexplicably looks like Boris Karloff, returns with his accomplice Dr. Einstein (Xavier Billings) on the night that the aunts were planning to bury the newest victim, Mortimer must rally to help his aunts and protect his fiancé—all while trying to keep his own sanity.                                                                                        

The police get involved (Jacob Hassler as Officer Brophy, Katie Dix as Officer Klein, Gage Smith as Officer O’Hara, and Vlad Williams as Lt. Rooney) as the plot thickens.                                                                                                                            

An uproarious farce, “Arsenic and Old Lace” premiered on Broadway in 1941 to rave reviews—the New York Times writing that it was “so funny that none of us will ever forget it.” It was made into a movie starring Cary Grant, which was released in 1944, after the play closed.                                       

The play was apparently based on the real-life story of a Connecticut woman who promised “lifetime care” to boarders and then poisoned them for their pensions. Kesselring initially intended to write the play as a heavy drama, but was convinced by his producers that the play would be more effective as a comedy.                                    

Tickets are available at the door of the McPherson Opera House or with advance reservations. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for students and $7 for seniors. The show can be live streamed for $10 at