“Arsenic and Old Lace” opens Friday at the Manchester Arts Center

Teen actors present ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’  

“Arsenic and Old Lace” Director Haylee Eaton poses for production photos with Brewster aunts Hailey Hansen and Rayanna Lemons during a rehearsal for the show which opens Jan. 12 at the Manchester Arts Center. Photographer Rachel Spangler directs the photo shoot-staff photo by John Coffelt.

Millennium Repertory’s younger actor’s branch, the Teen Actor’s Guild, will present “Arsenic and Old Lace” Jan. 12-21 at the Manchester Arts Center. A comedic hit, “Arsenic and Old Lace” is a must-see for everyone. The cast of 13 performers, ages 13 to 19, is under the direction of Haylee Eaton. “It’s a funny show. I’ve always heard my mom talk about it when she helped out when the Duck River Players did it back in the 80s or 90s. I thought it was a very interesting show,” Eaton said. Eaton enjoys working with the teens. “You just have to put yourself in their shoes and go back to how I felt when I did shows in TAG.” It’s a matter of remembering what she needed from a director and being that person for her cast. One of the more interesting aspects of a play with as much history as “Arsenic” is that the humor while relevant to modern viewers, can be in print a bit dated. “With this show, it’s understanding the jokes. They’re 194os jokes. I had to look them up to make sure they are jokes and explain them to the kids. “Once we all understand, we all start laughing at them,” Eaton said. “Arsenic” centers on Mortimer Brewster, who is excited to announce his engagement to his sweet spinster aunts, but his excitement soon turns to panic when he discovers a dead body in the window box seat of Martha and Abby’s home. He fears his brother Teddy committed the murder, only to discover his aunts have been poisoning lonely old men for years. When Mortimer’s other brother Jonathan arrives at the home, chaos breaks loose. Mortimer is played by Micah Hansen, a veteran of the TAG and MRC stage who leads the ensemble with  quiet enthusiasm. “He’s the only sane member of the family. He wants to be estranged from the family, but obviously his wishes aren’t coming true,” Hansen said. “I like dark comedy. (‘Arsenic’) is not too dark. It’s very funny. There are these tight situations where one person enters a room and the other exits at that time. It’s very old sitcom-y in a way.” The aunts round out the cast as charming and innocent ladies who populate their cellar with the remains of socially and religiously “acceptable” roomers; the antics of their nephew who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and the activities of the other nephew. ​Shows are Jan. 12-14, 19-21: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students, seniors and military and are available at millenniumrep.org or by calling 931-570-4489. The 2018 Millennium Repertory Company season ticket information is also available online.

Whom to see on the stage

 Micah Hansen: Mortimer Brewster a drama critic and a central character to the play Hailey Hansen: Abby Brewster, A darling lady in her sixties who poisons elderly men Rayanna Lemons:  Martha, the other half of the murderous duo of aunts. Trevor Hawk: The Rev. Dr. Harper, minister and father of Elaine Tanner Maccagnone: Teddy Brewster, nephew of Abby and Martha Brewster, he is a man in his forties who thinks that he is Theodore Roosevelt Nicole Whitt: Officer Brophy, a police officer Anna “Mangos” Campbell: Officer Klein, a police officer Elizabeth Damewood: Elaine Harper, an attractive girl in her twenties and Mortimer’s fiancée, Elaine is the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Harper. She is surprisingly wise in the ways of the world for a minister’s daughter Micah Hansen: Mortimer Brewster, nephew of Abby and Martha, Mortimer is a drama critic who is engaged to Elaine. He is a nice man who cares for his aunts Leah Stewart: Gibbs, A man who wishes to rent a room from the Brewster sisters Steven Marshall: Jonathan Brewster, nephew of Abby and Martha Brewster, Jonathan is a psychopath who has had plastic surgery and now looks like Boris Karloff Mason Singer: Dr. Einstein, A plastic surgeon and an alcoholic who is in his fifties, Dr. Einstein has changed Jonathan’s face three times Oren Harper: Officer O’Hara, A police officer and a would-be playwright who pesters Mortimer to read his play Trevor Hawk: Lt. Rooney, a tough and dominating police officer Bre Chansky:  Mrs. Witherspoon, the superintendent of Happy Dale Sanitarium The crew includes Ali Lemmons (stage manager), Karisha Glover (assistant director) and Katie Slabaugh (prop manager).  

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