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RHS Theater Guild Performs Arsenic and Old Lace

Left, Neleh Dunn, (Dr. Einstein) and right John Ellard III ( Jonathan Brewster) tie up Sean Morrissey (Mortimer Brewster) in a scene from Act III of Arsenic and Old Lace. Veritas photo


The Rockland High School Theater Guild performed the play Arsenic and Old Lace on December 6, 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Good sized audiences came out all three nights to watch the much anticipated fall production.

The play was based on the classic comedy by Joseph Kesselring, written in 1939, that follows Mortimer Brewster and his crazy family: brothers Jonathan and Teddy, and aunts Martha and Abby as they cope with each others’ homicidal tendencies. The humor was both subtle and obvious, and the interplay of the characters kept the action moving swiftly throughout the three acts.

The entire Theater Guild cast and crew contributed to three nights of what audiences found to be virtually flawless performances. With a variety of character acting within the play, the cast was able to pull off the low-key comedy that has made Arsenic and Old Lace a popular choice for school productions.

Directors Joanne White and Julia DiCanzio were pleased with the cast’s performances on all three nights. Ms. White said, “The kids worked so hard throughout the rehearsals and they lit up the stage every night.”

Ms. White added, “We really challenged them this year with a wide array of characters, and they came through remarkably.”

Lara Glennon and Emily Gaboriault as the elderly Brewster sisters. photo courtesy of John Ellard

Junior Lara Glennon, in her first Theater Guild show, and sophomore Emily Gaboriault, who played Dorothy last year in the Wizard of Oz, were very convincing in their portrayals of the elderly, homicidal sisters Martha and Abby Brewster. Senior Sean Morrissey, also in his Theater Guild debut, played Mortimer Brewster, a role that kept him on stage in almost every scene. Junior Philip Pattison as Teddy (Roosevelt) Brewster provided much of the comic relief in the play.

Senior John Ellard III, playing serial killer Jonathan Brewster, senior Megan Diver as strong-willed Elaine Harper and junior Neleh Dunn as Dr. Einstein turned in strong performances as did sophomore Terell Wright (Gibbs), freshman Cailin Sullivan (Officer Klein), junior Zach Webb (Mr. Witherspoon), sophomore Jonah Pishkin (Lt. Rooney) and senior Justin Sherlock (Officer Brophy).

Providing much of the comedy in Act III was senior Tyler Beatrice, who, also in his acting debut, played the role of Officer O’Hara.

Summing up the make up and performance of her diverse cast and crew, Ms. White said, “It was a great mix of new people and veteran thespians who worked together as a group and really supported each other.”

The backstage crew included: Ali Landy (Stage Manager), Bonnie Gasdia, (Asst. Stage Manager), Seth Rosczewski (Lighting Operator), Leah Drago (Sound Operator), Molly Boggs (Costumes), Julia Yeadon (Hair and Make-Up), and Stage Crew, Morgan Wahlstrom, Maria Pala, Leah Leonard and Christa Pollard.Anthony DiNino contributed cover art and posters.

Staff members Bryan Conklin, Julia DiCanzio and Joanne White designed the set and Dave Cable-Murphy and Chris Burnieika coordinated sound and lights.

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