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Veteran cast takes stage in 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

Pat Buechler, left, and Lelia Guilbert rehearse a scene from the Mitchell Area Community Theatre production, "Arsenic and Old Lace," Monday. The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre for the Performing Arts. (Jennifer Jungwirth/Republic)

The next show in the 2011 Mitchell Area Community Theatre series promises to offer laughs from a large veteran cast.

"Arsenic and Old Lace" opens this weekend at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre for the Performing Arts. The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. March 4-5, and at 2 p.m. Sunday and March 6. Tickets are available at The Antique Mall, Mitchell.

The play, written by Joseph Kesserling in 1939, is best known for its 1940s film adaption staring Cary Grant.

A dark comedy, the show tells the story of two elderly sisters with quite a quirk. Abby and Martha Brewster, played by Lelia Guilbert and Pat Buechler, consider it a charity to murder lonely old men.

"It's a mercy to them by putting them out of their misery. She's on the crazy side," Buechler said.

The sisters' dark secret, woven in with the rest of the chaos in their dysfunctional family, creates a dark comedy that director Anessa Klumb said will leave the audience in laughter.

"It's just incredibly witty," Klumb said. "The cast brings so much out of it."

Buechler, who has been involved in ACT for 17 years, said actors like Dave Roy, Bob Way and Russ Whaley really beef up the comedy.

"Mortimor, played by Dave Roy, has tremendous, wonderful expressions and reactions. He adds that comedic flare," Buechler said.

Roy plays one of the Brewster sisters' three nephews. Way and Whaley play the other two.

Way's character believes he is Teddy Roosevelt, and his personality onstage will also send the audience into fits of laughter, Buechler said.

Roy, whom the audience may have seen in ACT productions such as "MASH," "Noises Off" and "Playing Doctor," said comedy just comes naturally to him.

"It's what I like to do. I can't sing. I don't dance, but I can make you laugh," he said.

And with his role as Mortimor, he gets to embellish his expressions, especially at the end of the show.

Because "Arsenic and Old Lace" has a strong veteran cast, Klumb said she had a lot of faith in the show coming together, especially when she missed a week of rehearsals recently when she had the flu.