This weekend, don't miss out on the chance for some belly laughs at Embassy Theatre, when a cast of mysterious and murderous characters take the stage in "Arsenic and Old Lace."

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
This weekend, don't miss out on the chance for some belly laughs at Embassy Theatre, when a cast of mysterious and murderous characters take the stage in "Arsenic and Old Lace."
The play revolves around the Brewster family, descended from the Mayflower, but now composed of insane homicidal maniacs. First, you will meet the sweet and deadly spinster sisters - Abby and Martha - played ever so innocently (and dastardly) by Luann Lancaster and Linda Julien. Both of these actors have a vast background in theatre performance, and they portray these sisters perfectly. They are charming and hospitable - offering their vintage home as lodging to wayward strangers. And what is more hospitable than sweet, friendly faces and some arsenic-laced elderberry wine?
At the Brewster home, strangers check in, spend some time with the sisters, have some delicious, home-made wine and then spend eternity in the basement - buried in style in the Panama Canal!
Luann has taken on many meaty roles throughout her career on the stage, and although she is new to Embassy Theatre, it is evident that her skills have been well-honed. She brings life to Abby Brewster...ALMOST makes you want to visit and have some tea and cookies with her!
Whenever I have the opportunity to see Linda on stage, I am there. She has a subtle sense of humor, and terrific facial expressions. I'm not sure she knows what a terrific actor she is, but she aces everything on stage. She has that innate ability to take on a character and bring out the best things about that character.
Now, there's Timothy Bambara - one of the area's most busy actors! I have seen him in numerous productions this year, and as Mortimer in this show - he's absolutely hilarious! Poor Mortimer - coming to visit the lovely aunts and then discovering Mr. Hoskins in the window seat...then finding out his brother Teddy has a few screws loose (played by Kenny Heath)...and then hearing all about what happens in the basement! And if that weren't enough, Mortimer has to find out that his brother Jonathan has evil intentions of his own.
When you see Tim run his scenes in this play, you will laugh at his physical dilemmas and the way he carries on with all of the things he learns about his "family.” Tim performs at the top of his game in every show. He masters his dialogue and knows his characters inside and out. Tim is one of fourteen reasons to come see this show!
Kimberli Rowley, the tri-state area's most diverse and talented actor/director/ choreographer/businesswoman...well, you know - she does it all by managing to put in a 50-hour day into a 24-hour day. In this production, she plays Tim's soon-to-be-wife Elaine Harper, and although the role is much smaller than some of the roles she has mastered just this year alone (Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" and Maggie the Cat in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” for example), she soon finds out what kind of family Mortimer has!
In the local theatre world, many of you know Kevin Shreve, who last year portrayed Tevye in Potomac State College’s "Fiddler on the Roof"' and then Caiaphas in Apple Alley Players' "Jesus Christ Superstar.” In this Embassy production, Kevin goes to the dark side and takes on Jonathan Brewster - he's just as deadly as his Aunt Martha and Aunt Abby! He and his alcoholic sidekick, Dr. Einstein (played with goofy humor by Tom Vogtman Sr), move into the Brewster home with many secrets of their own. Jonathan bears a resemblance to the famous Boris Karloff, but don't tell him that, or you might meet your own demise! He does not take kindly to that reference.
"Arsenic and Old Lace" is directed by Tom Valentine, who also plays Officer O'Hara...always wanting to talk for hours about a new play he is writing. Unfortunately, no one wants to hear about it! I have never seen Tom on the stage, and it was quite the treat for me, as I've only known him from a director standpoint. Tom is an accomplished actor, as well as director, with decades of successful roles and shows under his belt. And it looks like this will be another one to add to his collection!
There are a few other actors who are new to Embassy stage. Lisa Castleman plays Mrs. Harper; Mark Sprouse - Officer Brophy; Larry Myers - Mr. Gibb. Each of them brings color with their roles in this show, adding their expertise and theatre background and experience to the quality of the show.
It is a worthy mention that Kenny Heath as Teddy Roosevelt adds a sense of craziness and delusion to the Brewster home. Up and down the stairs - CHARGE! Down to the basement - DIG!
As with Tom Valentine, I had only ever seen Jerard Puckett as a director/ producer, so it, too, was nice to see him take the stage as Lieutenant Rooney. Jerard does a fine job playing a goofy "dufus" lieutenant in this cast of goofy, murderous, secret villains.
Toward the end of the play, visiting the Brewster home is Mr. Witherspoon, played with a fine, professional air by Adam T. Swayne. Mr. Witherspoon has come to visit to have the paperwork signed for Teddy to be placed into Happy Dale. But, Mr. Witherspoon gets more than he bargained for, and soon, he may be enjoying a glass of wine and making a trip to the basement.
You will have to come to find out what happens to this crew of zany, aloof, secretive, and conniving characters. Whatever you do, do NOT look in the window seat!
"Arsenic and Old Lace" runs Nov. 3-12, with shows at 8 p.m. on Fridat/Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. There is a Dinner/Theatre package with Mezzos, and includes dinner, dessert, non-alcoholic beverage, theatre admission, complimentary cocktail at Passport Cafe in the lobby, VIP seating and post-show opportunities for photographs with the cast.
For more information or reservations, call (240) 362-7183.