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RIC Theater’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” set for Feb. 19-23  

RIC student actors Neil Jeronimo and Sarah Reid.

RIC student actors Neil Jeronimo and Sarah Reid.

 

The RIC Mainstage Theatre production of Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” is a laugh-out-loud comedy that is sure to excite and surprise. The production hits the stage Feb. 19-23 in the auditorium in Roberts Hall.

Linda Murphy Sutherland, associate director of academic programs in the Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs at Emerson College, is guest directing the production.

“I am very pleased with the cast of students here at RIC,” Sutherland said. “They are the best ever.” Sutherland has directed for various colleges. This is her first invitation to Rhode Island College.

“Arsenic and Old Lace,” is set in 1941 Brooklyn. Protagonist Mortimer Brewster, played by Neil Jeronimo, a drama critic who hates the theater, must cope with his two spinster aunts who think they are doing a Christian service by poisoning lonely old men who room in their home.

Mortimer also has two unbalanced brothers: Teddy, played by Justin Paige, believes he is President Teddy Roosevelt and busies himself digging the Panama Canal in the cellar (the graves for his aunts’ victims). Meanwhile, Jonathan, played by Stevie Smith, bears an unfortunate resemblance to Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster as a result of reconstructive surgery.

Mortimer must cope with his outrageous family and decide whether or not to marry the minister’s daughter, played by Sarah Reid.

Sutherland watched the 1944 film version starring Cary Grant as a child and remembers loving the classic farce ever since.

“The timing, exits and entrances, and watching the performers maneuver on stage give the play its humor,” Sutherland said. “There isn’t a person who walks out of the theater whose face does not hurt from laughing.”

Sutherland has directed several college productions, including “Hopscotch,” “K-2,” “How I Learned to Drive,” “Bus Stop,” “Harvey,” “Marisol,” “The Tempest” and Marvin’s Room.” She is also a teaching artist at Trinity Repertory Company.

General admission is $15. Performances will be held in the Forman Theatre, Feb. 19-22 at 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances on Feb. 22 and 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance by using a Visa or MasterCard by calling (401) 456-8144 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays or online at www.ric.edu/pfa.