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Theater Review: ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ at Keith

December 18, 2013

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

Sunday’s snowstorm was inconvenient, but with the help of some friends, my car was defrosted, and I made it home safely. James Radloff’s ability to give young students at Keith Country Day School every opportunity to develop every aspect of theater is amazing. Many of his former students are continuing careers in the arts, and the new faces on stage show great promise.

A three-act play from the 1940s seems a bit of a stretch for teen-agers, but they handled it beautifully. Only a sophomore, Brette Olpin plays Abby Brewster and is joined with Addie Longberry as her sister Martha. The Brewster sisters have a few “quirks,” not an uncommon trait in the family. They care for their brother Teddy, played by Xavier Reinders, whose identity has become that of President Teddy Roosevelt.

Mortimer Brewster, a theater critic, seems most conventional and is in love with Elaine Harper, the next-door neighbor, played by Rebekah Smith. Joining the fun intermittently are several policemen, checking on Teddy’s charges up San Juan Hill. Edward and Kenneth Hall, seniors and twin brothers, play two diverse characters. Kenneth is Reverend Harper, and Edward appears later in the play as another Brewster, accompanied by his plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein (naturally), played by Scott Chacula.

Radloff’s strength is his amazing ability to create a perfect stage set, and he has done it again. Every detail of the Brewster home is authentic, including the all-important window seat that becomes the resting place for many a body. Although the play is a familiar one, the audience enjoyed it tremendously.

This play finished its run Saturday, Dec. 14. Opening Friday, Jan. 30, 2014, is Twain’s World, a collection of stories based on the writings of the essential 19th-century American author.

Support your local theaters.

From the Dec. 18-24, 2013, issue

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