September 19, 2017 07:23PM
By Nancy Burns-Fusaro
Sun staff writer
WESTERLY — John Cillino as Cary Grant and David Jepson as Frank Capra? Well, yes, sort of. Stick with me.
“Arsenic and Old Lace,” the play once described as the “most popular in the world theatrical repertoire,” by drama critic Rob Nixon, opens Friday at the Granite Theatre and if you’ve never seen the rollicking who-done-it on stage, you’ll want to add it to your list of things to do this month.
Set in the early 1940s, ‘Arsenic’ tells the hilarious story of newspaper drama critic — and notorious anti-marriage columnist — Mortimer Brewster, who is eager to marry his fiancée, Elaine Harper, who happens to be the minister’s daughter. Elaine’s father, The Rev. Dr. Harper, objects to the idea
Standing between the lovebirds is the wackiest, weirdest bunch of characters imaginable.
But problems with his future father-in-law are mild ones for Mortimer, compared to his discovery of a dead body in the window seat of the home of his kindly spinster aunties, Abby and Martha, who raised him and his two brothers, Teddy, who believes himself to be Theodore Roosevelt, and long-lost Jonathan, who as a child tied Mortimer to the bedpost.
Movie buffs will remember of course, that Capra (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”) directed the film version of the play which starred Cary Grant as Mortimer.
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The Granite’s version will star three Jepsons in four roles: David will direct and make a cameo as Mr. Witherspoon, Beth will play Abby Brewster, one of the murderous aunts, and David’s twin brother, Michael, will play Dr. Einstein.
One of the main draws during the play’s first Broadway run was Boris Karloff as Jonathan Brewster, Mortimer’s homicidal brother.
In the movie version, Raymond Massey (Perry Mason), made up to look like Karloff, played the role. Jude Pescatello will tackle the Jonathan role for the Granite.
Bob Hope was the first choice for the film role of Mortimer.
“Arsenic and Old Lace” runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (except Oct. 8, which is at 5 p.m.) through Oct. 8. $20 general admission, $17 62 and older, $12 for children.