A GREAT NIGHT OF THEATRE
Please don’t be mistook that I meant “a night of great theatre.” That’s not what happened. Instead Don and I were part of a group of eleven non-actors putting on a ZOOM production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” My daughter Judy, the producer/director, first had the idea of a zoom play, recruited the actors, assigned parts as necessary, sent us the script, and joined some of us individually the morning before the performance to make sure we were all able to open two side-by-side windows on our computers, one for the script and one for the actor who was reading.
Don was excited to reprise the role of the police lieutenant
Rooney, a part he had played in the 1947 production of Arsenic put on by the Central High Players in Omaha. Although he didn’t remember all of the lines, he read them with authority as best as his limited vision made possible, chastising the officers on the beat for not being up to date on department directives. He also played the part of the minister, Reverend Harper, Elaine’s father. That worked out well for him because it gave him one role in the first act and a different role in the third, giving him time (two intermissions) to switch from the stiff paper backwards collar of the first act to the necktie and dress shirt of the third. The intermissions also gave time for the rest of us to replenish our drinks.
I played Elaine, the girl friend of Mortimer Brewster, the drama critic and nephew of the elderly aunts. I would have liked to play one of the aunts since I am more age-appropriate for that kind of role, but that’s not what Judy decided, and you know what the absolute rule of a producer/director can be.
I won’t tell you who played the other roles to protect the privacy of the players (you know how the Seattle Times doesn’t name perpetrators until they have been charged), but I can tell you that all did well in infusing their parts with passion and color. I especially want to cite the actor who played Teddy, the younger nephew, who thought he was Teddy Roosevelt, and “charged!” up the stairs (San Juan Hill) with vim and vigor while remaining seated on a sofa.
The morning after (now) all the players have come together to thank Judy for an experience that was a welcome break from the pandemic and the weather, and fun too! Many suggested that we do this again, only next time with a play that isn’t three acts long (forget Shakespeare) but more likely one act. If you would like to suggest a one-act play for our next venture, please let me know by sending a comment to this post. Thank you for reading this far.