Thomas Jefferson

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Arsenic Arrives

Posted 03/09/2015 by Thomas Silverstein

Senior Marcos Descalzi during a rehearsal. photo by Thomas Silverstein

As opening night approaches, TJ Theatre members gear up for this year’s play, Arsenic and Old Lace.

After five months of hard work, the students of TJ Theatre will see their long rehearsals and utmost endeavors pay off with the premiere of this year’s play, Arsenic and Old Lace. They began work at the beginning of November, and are approaching the last stretch of the season. The show will open on March 11 and run until the 14th, and the actors and technical crew members are anxiously preparing for what may be one of TJ’s most unforgettable productions.

TJ Theatre has put on many successful shows in the past, such as Chicago, RENT, and In the Heights, and theatre members foresee that Arsenic will be no exception. The play takes place in Brooklyn in the 1940s and centers on drama critic Mortimer Brewster and his crazy, homicidal family members. “The play is about two old ladies that think they are doing a service by taking in old men with no family, and putting them out of their misery by poisoning them with arsenic,” outlined director Tambyr Reed.

The play revolves around four main characters, with many other ridiculous personas in the mix. Senior Marcos Descalzi plays Mortimer, a soon-to-be-wed drama critic. “He has a wide range of emotions: he can be angry and crazy and happy and loving,” said Descalzi. He must deal with his insane aunts: Abby, played by senior Jessica Holman, and Martha, played by junior Anja Oss. “What I really like about my character is that she’s a very nice lady, but she’s also mentally insane. She does it in such an innocent way that nobody understands how crazy she is,” explained Holman.

The plot thickens with the arrival of Mortimer’s brother Jonathan, played by sophomore Evan Domagala. “I play Mortimer’s long-forgotten brother, who has been away for twenty years on a crime spree,” commented Domagala. He played Benny in In the Heights and Tom Groggins in While the Lights Were Out, both very different characters than his current role. “This time I get to be the evil antagonist, and that’s a big change for me since I’ve played nicer characters in the past.”

Theatre veterans were not the only ones to earn bigger roles. Freshman Beck Moore will be playing the role of Teddy, the third Brewster brother, who thinks he’s Theodore Roosevelt. “He’s a little crazy, and so am I, which is why I like playing him,” said Moore. “There were a lot of other people trying to get the part that I wanted, but I think I got the role because I’m similar to him.” Additionally, freshman James Oss will play Jonathan’s assistant, Dr. Einstein.

TJ Theatre’s tech crew has also been hard at work since November building the play’s complex two-story set. It will have a grand staircase, multiple doors, elaborate windows, a balcony, a window seat, and a trapdoor. Before crew members started building, they spent time cleaning and preparing the workshop to make the building process as effortless as possible. The crew then took on the elaborate task of constructing the set. Technical Director Bryan Wright explained, “The process of building the set has taken a lot of time. It is a very complicated set to build, meaning that every measurement must be precise and that everything has to be safe.” Once the majority of construction was completed, crew members began focusing on more specialized tasks relating to lighting, sound, and work backstage.

Opening night is approaching quickly, and the cast and crew are putting on the final touches to ensure that every detail is perfect. Arsenic and Old Lace is bound to be a hit, and the entire theatre crew hopes that students and parents alike will enjoy the show. The play will premiere on March 11th in TJ’s auditorium and show until the 14th. Tickets will be available through any cast or tech member, or can be purchased online.

The cast is as follows:

Jessica Holman as Abby Brewster

Sean McNearney as Reverend Dr. Harper

Beck Moore as Teddy Brewster

Taja Shannon and Chase Vandenham as Officer Brophy

Landon Cramer and Molly O’Neil as Officer Klein

Anja Oss as Martha Brewster

Jordyn Chappell as Elaine Harper

Marcos Descalzi as Mortimer Brewster

Sam Mattei as Mr. Gibbs

Evan Domagala as Jonathan Brewster

James Oss as Dr. Einstein

Ben Salinger as Officer O’Hara

Jay Iyema and Olivia Palizzi as Lieutenant Rooney

Micaiah Swaim as Mr. Witherspoon