After 10 years of workshopping in the Soldotna High School drama department, Sara Erfurth is finally putting on “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
The 1939 dark comedy by Joseph Kesselring, which ran on Broadway in the 1940s and was later adapted into movie starring Cary Grant, chronicles the dysfunctional and murderous nature of the Brewster family in Brooklyn, New York.
Erfurth, the head of the English department at SoHi and the director of the play, said during a rehearsal Tuesday that she’s been waiting years for the production to fall into place.
“That was the first play I ever tried to do back when I first started teaching, and it just ended up falling apart,” she said. “This has literally been a decade of hoping we get to this, but I’ve been waiting kind of for the right cast, the right group of kids, (and) the right time to put this on.”
The allure of the story to her is the variety of theatrical elements.
“It has this great blend between comedy and thriller,” Erfurth said. “It kind of does a lot of poking fun at theater, but also at the same time, it has real menace in it, witty banter, and a lot of that 1940s kind of rapport and give and take.”
Students auditioned for the play in January, and have faced obstacles during their time rehearsing. Erfurth said some members of the production, herself included, have had to stay home after testing positive for COVID-19, which has created delays in production.
But, she said, the kids haven’t been deterred.
“It definitely has been a little bit more difficult than usual, but actually, you can kind of tell there’s a fun group,” Erfurth said. “They’ve got good chemistry with each other and everyone kind of gets along really well.”
Darek Hatten, a junior at SoHi, plays the protagonist Mortimer Brewster. His character tries to conceal the dark secrets of his family while balancing the woes of his love life with the woman next door.
Hatten said he enjoys playing Mortimer.
“I adore his personality a lot,” he said. “I see a lot of myself in Mortimer and his personality, how obsessed he is with his certain interests, and also his mannerisms.”
Although Hatten has participated in drama at SoHi, he said this is his first major production.
“I think all of the cast has been having a lot of fun with our characters; we’ve all been progressing,” he said.
Freshman Aidan Bon plays Martha Brewster, one of Mortimer’s elderly aunts who gets herself into trouble. She said she likes playing a character that has a little edge.
“Martha, she’s not all there all the time,” Bon said. “All her rocks aren’t in the same basket.”
The teamwork and camaraderie, she said, have been some of the best parts of production.
“Whenever we had breaks, we were always chatting and like ad-libbing,” Bon said. “We like to joke around.”
Showtimes are 6 p.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna High School auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door.