‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ makes for madcap evening

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Classic comedy

What: ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Winters Community Center, 201 Railroad Ave., Winters

Tickets: $12 general; $6 for seniors and kids under 12. Visit www.winters
theatre.org or call 795-4014

Two sweeter murderesses never existed. Aunties Abby and Martha Brewster just want to peacefully put some old, lonely men out of their misery. Thirteen of them to be exact, which puts them in contention for the body count achieved by their most evil nephew, Jonathan, and his wacky accomplice Dr. Einstein.
Nephew Mortimer nearly becomes Jonathan’s next victim, no thanks to the bumbling police force, and meanwhile poor little Elaine Harper just wants to get married. Meanwhile, “Teddy Roosevelt” is leading the charge up the staircase, and burying the “yellow fever victims” downstairs in the Panama Canal.
It’s community theater at its best, and of course there’s a happy ending for all, except the menacing Jonathan. And all those dead guys.
Winters Theatre Company’s production of Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” is lively, entertaining, seamlessly cast and just a whole lot of fun.
Germaine Hupe and Dona Akers star as Abby and Martha, respectively, and both are sublimely adorable in their roles as primly dressed Grim Reapers for lonely men who have the misfortune of visiting their home as potential boarders and partake of the sisters’ homemade elderberry wine. It’s not really murder, it’s altruism — complete with a private funeral service attended by “the President.”
Trent Beeby does a frighteningly convincing portrayal of a homicidal serial murderer, and is so menacing toward his sweet aunts that one almost wishes the bop over the head from one of the police officers had packed a little more punch. His sidekick, Dr. Einstein, is played by a little scene-stealer, Laure Olson, adding a quite unusual twist to her German character by performing in a perfect Transylvanian accent. Olson is one of those actresses who need only walk onto the stage to get chuckles from the audience.
Scott Taylor as Mortimer Brewster is simply fantastic in his role, from comedic timing to execution of his lines. Two thumbs way up for Taylor. Also deserving of many kudos is Manny Lanzaro, who nails the bumbling Irish cop stereotype to a tee.
Jesse Akers as nephew Teddy Brewster (aka Teddy Roosevelt) is perfection. Akers captures the essence of an individual who is not experiencing life around him on the same plane as everyone else.
Mortimer’s brand-new fiancée, Elaine, is played by sweet, bubbly Ginger Alexander, who shows her feisty side as well. Elaine is the daughter of kindly Reverend Harper, played by familiar WTC actor Tom Rost, who is joined by his wife, Ann, playing the role of Dr. Witherspoon, tasked with taking “President Roosevelt” to the sanitarium.
Potential murder victim Mr. Gibbs, played by Larry Justus, is lucky to make it out of the Brewster home alive, and the cast is rounded out and everyone’s life saved by Rodney Orosco as Lieutenant Rooney. The rest of the law enforcement team is Bryan Pro as Officer Brophy and Catherine Portman as Officer Klein.
There wasn’t a shabby performance in the bunch, and the set is gorgeous.

“Arsenic and Old Lace” continues at the Winters Community Center, 201 Railroad Ave., Winters, through this weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
For tickets, go online to www.winterstheatre.org, call 795-4014, or email winterstheatre@gmail.com. Tickets for general admission are $12; seniors and kids 12 and under are $6.

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