Saturday, May 25, 2013

Murder Most Funny Comes to Luke

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of watching the stage play, Arsenic and Old Lace, presented by our local acting troupe, the Luke Experience, at Luke Air Force Base.  The play is a three-act comedic masterpiece written by Joseph Kesselring almost seventy-five years ago.  It had a very successful and lengthy run on Broadway before being made into a movie by director Frank Capra, an immediate screen classic starring Cary Grant.

The Luke players performed this smart and witty play extremely well.   This is the fourth production that I have seen this group put on since I got back to the States ten months ago, and they just keep getting better and better.  The fourteen actors who appeared on stage knew their lines, hit their marks, and were awfully damned funny.    Director Linda Johnson had her show ready to go.

All were so good that it would be hard to recognize any as standouts.  That said, Daniel Calderone was very impressive as Mortimer (the Cary Grant role in the film), a newspaper drama critic who happened to discover that his two elderly aunts, Abby and Martha, were enjoying a pastime of poisoning lonely old men and then burying them in their basement.  Laurie Snyder and Lacey Quattelbaum were charming and sweetly sinister as the aunts.

Jerry McCalmon had a lot of fun playing Teddy, Mortimer's brother who believed he was Teddy Roosevelt.  Every time the aunts bumped off a lonely old geezer, the would send Teddy to the basement to dig another lock in the Panama Canal where the "yellow fever" victim would be interred.

Cris Ceroni portrayed the third brother, Jonathan, a murdering psychopath whose presence on stage gave a creepy counterbalance to the cheery homicides of Abby and Martha.   Ceroni's performances are always a pleasure to watch.  Ozzy Orozco gave a humorous take on the character of Dr. Einstein, Jonathan's personal plastic surgeon.  Sofie Calderone was also very funny in her role as Elaine, Mortimer's girlfriend.

Others in the acting ensemble included Jack Gibbons, Lee Hartwig, Jeanette Backhaus, Nick Cripe, Curtis Sproul, Demetrik Rushing, and Ron Fantasia.

The biggest improvement in the current show was the sound.   The past plays have suffered from a very inferior sound system that snapped, crackled, and popped throughout the performances.  Last night I could hear every word.  At first I thought that the troupe must have raised some money and gotten a new, state-of-the-art sound system, but later I came to the realization that they were operating without headsets and doing a wonderful job of projecting and making themselves heard.

Arsenic and Old Lace will be performed again tonight at the Luke Theatre at 7:00 p.m. as well as next Friday and Saturday nights also at 7:00 p.m.  It is a show that the whole family will enjoy - and I will probably go and enjoy it again before it closes.

Thank you, Luke Experience, for continuing to bring culture and entertainment to the base!  You guys rock!

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