Perfect Poison

The New York State Theater Institute is once again producing the classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace.

The production was met with critical acclaim during its run in both New York City and London during the thick of World War II.

Written by Joseph Kesserling, who died 1967 in Kingston, the play provided thousands of audiences with much-needed comic relief through America's entering into the war and England's turmoil in the face of German bombings.

After more than a decade and scores of requests for the company to bring the production back, Director Ed Lange consented. By his logic, a great play can't go wrong.

NYSTI has produced the play twice before, once in 1989 and again in 1996. On Saturday, Oct. 13, through Wednesday, Oct. 24, the company is bringing the hit comedy back at the Schacht Fine Arts Center at Russell Sage in Troy.

"After 11 years, all of the students who had seen it in the past have graduated and gone on. It's time for a new class to see the play," said Lange of Delmar. "It's an American classic comedy."

The story revolves around theater-hating drama critic Mortimer Brewster, played by Jason Marr, who stumbles upon his aunts' "charitable" work of poisoning Brooklyn's lonely elderly gentlemen. Mortimer's life spins out of control as he attempts to keep the lid on his aunts' actions, all the while preserving the family name and keeping them out of jail.

As with most comedies, the plot is thickened by an eccentric brother who does his part by burying the deceased, who he believes are yellow fever victims, in the basement, which he considers the Panama Canal; all the while masquerading as Theodore Roosevelt.

NYSTI has pulled together a star cast for the production, many of whom are rooted in theater classics, including roles in past productions of "Arsenic and Old Lace."

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