So many students turned out to audition for the spring play at Central Campus, director Chad Gifford decided that rather than have to dismiss half of them, he'd schedule a second play and use them all.
Thus the production of "Arsenic and Old Lace," directed by Gifford, and "The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon," directed by Beth Doster, make up the program this weekend at the Central Campus auditorium.
This is Doster's first foray into directing, although she has been assisting Gifford as a student teacher throughout several productions. She has a talented cast, with several veterans who take the lead in 'wrangling' the novice players.
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - Eric Yarham as Rumpelstiltskin, right, surprises Jacob Borja as a narrator in “A Grimm Spectaculathon.”
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - Rachel Dostert as Dr. Einstein, left, and Maddie Thompson as Jonathan tie up Spencer Haderlie as Mortimer in “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - From left: Haley Jefson as Martha, Linnea Maxfield as Abby and Amanda Kraft as Elaine are puzzled at the odd behavior of Spencer Haderlie as Mortimer and Maddie Thompson as Jonathan, who are concealing a dead body in “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
"The Narrators, Liberty Bickell and Jacob Borja, have been phenomenal," Doster said. "And the students seem to take direction from their peers better than I expected."
The Spectaculathon is the story of some people who decide to recreate Grimms' works, telling the stories in an old folk's home.
"It uses all the familiar fairy tales," Borja said. "But it kind of compresses them. It ends with a two-minute recap of the whole play, with the whole cast running through from start to finish. Overall it's fast-paced, really funny in every single part."
Borja, an aspiring director himself, has been acting only in the past four plays at Central, but now wants to make a career of it. There is a 10-minute intermission between shows, when the dessert ticket that is part of admission may be redeemed.
"That's something different we're doing," Gifford said. "Each ticket is good for one free item at the dessert social."
Following the social, the classic macabre farce "Arsenic and Old Lace" takes the stage, with Linnea Maxfield and Haley Jefson as the elderly sisters who are well-known in their Brooklyn neighborhood as charitable women. Not so well-known, even to the other family members, is the charity they practice of giving lonely old men poison-laced elderberry wine and burying them in the basement of their modest home.
Their nephew Mortimer, played by Spencer Haderlie, is in love with Elaine, played by Amanda Kraft. Their brother, Teddy, portrayed by Ashten Warman, thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt, complete with the charge up San Juan Hill.
It's the insanity of each member of the family, together with the engagement of the young couple and confusion of the neighborhood police and physicians that makes this a play The New York Times called "so funny that none of us will ever forget it."
Tickets for the show are $10 each. Performances are at 7 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.