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Starlight cast ready to kill in Arsenic and Old Lace

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 2/2/2012

It’s a show about murder, which prominently features a mentally unstable character, but the cast of Arsenic and Old Lace are sure Starlight Theater’s latest production in Anthem will leave audiences laughing.
The dark comedy, written in the 1940s, tells the tale of two elderly women who become convinced that they’re providing a service by killing older, less fortunate men. 
“If you can’t laugh having seen this play your sense of humor isn’t very flexible,” Bob Downing, a Peoria resident who plays Teddy Brewster said. “People will enjoy this cast. It’s an amazing group. We work well together.”
The run of the show will include nine performances beginning with a 7 p.m. debut on Friday at the Regency Safeway Center in Anthem.
Director Barbara Surloff said the classic remains popular for one main reason.
“It’s just very well written, Surloff said. “It’s one of those shows. This cast has
kept me laughing for the last eight weeks.”
The story takes focus when Mortimer, Martha and Abby’s nephew, finds out what his aunts have been up to, when he discovers a dead body.
Becky Bell, a theater teacher at Deer Valley High School in Glendale, ended a long
theater drought as a performer to be part of a show she did when she herself was a high school student.
After playing the role of Abby in high school she returns to the stage to play Martha this time.
“Usually I’m so busy with the shows I’m putting together at Deer Valley that I’d never have time to do this,” she said. “It wasn’t until a couple days before auditions that I decided I could do this. It felt very strange being on the other side of the table during rehearsals.”
Despite that fact, Bell said she and co-star Pat Drapac, who plays Abby, connected almost immediately.
“We have a really good chemistry,” she said. “I knew it in the auditions and was hoping the casting director was seeing it too. You could see it in the eye contact and the way we were feeding off one and other.”
Bell said her character is a lot of fun to play.
“Aunt Martha is the more timid of the two aunts,” she said. “She gets a little bit more confident as the story moves along. Bless her heart she wants to help everyone. She’s sweet and kind and not all there. I love the humor in this show. It’s so funny. I love the characters.”
While the first death was an accident the two aunts take to their new service with increasing zest.
They also have a somewhat willing partner to their crimes.
While the two aunts poison the men they deem lonely and unhappy, Downing’s character, who is under the impression that he’s Teddy Roosevelt and that he’s digging the Panama Canal is actually burying victims in the basement.
“Mostly I’ve been in comedy so this show is a good one for me,” Downing said. “These two women are the glue to the play and they do an excellent job. They’re very talented. Actually I’ve never seen a group that was so well cast. You’ll sit there and say these people are those characters. We’ve been rehearsing all this time and I know lines are coming and I still can’t help, but laugh. I can’t believe when people hear this they aren’t going to fall off their chairs.”
The run of the show includes 7 p.m. performances on Friday, Saturday, Feb. 10-11 and Feb 17-18 in addition to 3 p.m. shows on Sunday, Feb. 12 and Feb. 19.
The show will take place in Suite B-119 at 3655 West Anthem Way in Anthem.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children.
For information or to purchase tickets go to starlightcommunitytheater.org or email info@starlightcommunitytheater.org.