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A deadly good time

'Arsenic and Old Lace' to open at the Washington Community Center this weekend

GTNS photos by Gretchen Teske

Left, Mortimer Brewster, played by Brett Pierson, stands beside Martha Brewster, played by Amie Brigance, center, as she and her sister Abby Brewster, played by Nancy Salemink, right, explain why there is arsenic in the wine. The show will be featured at the community center at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, 13, 19 and 20, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Oct. 21.
GTNS photos by Gretchen Teske Left, Mortimer Brewster, played by Brett Pierson, stands beside Martha Brewster, played by Amie Brigance, center, as she and her sister Abby Brewster, played by Nancy Salemink, right, explain why there is arsenic in the wine. The show will be featured at the community center at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, 13, 19 and 20, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Oct. 21.
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Two elderly sisters, an engagement and a deadly secret are just the right ingredients for this comedic play opening at the Community Center this weekend.

The show, performed by the Washington Community theater, takes place in one of “the oldest houses in Brooklyn” and is owned by two sisters: Abby Brewster, played by Nancy Salemink, and Martha Brewster, played by Amie Brigance. The two have opened their home to be used as a boardinghouse for single men travelers. However, the more stories of loneliness and despair they hear, the more they hatch a plan to help with the problem.

As if taking care of their own home is not enough, they are heavily involved in the life of their nephew, Mortimer Brewster, played by Brett Pierson. At the beginning of the show, Mortimer becomes engaged to longtime girlfriend Elaine Harper, played by Brandi Glaspie. Amid the celebrations Mortimer accidentally discovers his aunts’ secret: they have been putting arsenic in the wine and killing off the lonely men who enter the home.

Mortimer goes into a tailspin and spends the rest of the show trying to prevent his fiancee from finding out and struggling with whether or not to call the police or try to convince his aunts of their damage himself. The show is filled with comedic lines, unexpected guests and of course, arsenic, to round it all out.

Director Lynnette Loula has dreamed of directing this show for a while but never felt she had the right group of people. She spent 16 years directing the high school shows before retiring, then made the permanent move into the community theater world as a director. Loula said getting to direct in the town and theater she grew up in is like coming back home.

“It’s kind of home to be here,” she said.

The cast of 14 features both new and veteran performers. Five cast members have never been on stage before and two of those are from the same family. Shawn Brigance, who plays the Rev. Harper, is joining his wife, Amie Brigance on stage while their son, Tanner Brigance, is trying his hand at sound. Loula says getting new people into the theater and giving them new experiences is what helps the theater grow and she is encouraged by the new talent that has emerged this year.

“This community theater was so strong here throughout the years and there’s a generation now that’s gone and it hasn’t really been picked up by a new generation,” she said. “I love watching them fall in love with it.”

The forecast for this weekend promises to be cold and windy but Loula ensures that a trip to the theater is just the thing to warm the heart and keep the audience laughing.

“These lines can’t help but be funny but I think we have some really good delivery by all of these people,” she said. “They’ll get warmed up laughing.”

Performances of “Arsenic and Old Lace” will take place at the Community Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13. They will continue the following weekend with 7:30 p.m. performances on Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 21. Tickets may be purchased at the door.