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BYU faculty members Barta Heiner, Janet Swenson star in “Arsenic and Old Lace”

Opens March 29 on Pardoe Theatre stage

Murderous criminals, romantic strife, insane in-laws and arsenic will all be served up in the Brigham Young University Department of Theatre and Media Arts production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” March 29 through April 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pardoe Theatre.

Dress rehearsal performances will take place Wednesday and Thursday, March 29-30, and a matinee performance will begin Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m. There will be no performances on Sundays and Mondays.

Tickets are $12 or $9 with BYU or student ID. Seats for dress rehearsals and the matinee performance are $5. To purchase tickets, call the Fine Arts Tickets Office at (801) 422-4322 or visit

A classic comedy written by Joseph Kesselring and directed by Laurie Harrop-Purser, “Arsenic and Old Lace” features BYU faculty members Barta Heiner and Janet Swenson as the elderly Brewster sisters.

“The highlight of the show is the talent of Barta and Janet,” Harrop-Purser said. “They have both performed widely as professional actors, and they are hysterical in their roles.”

“Arsenic and Old Lace” is an ironic comedy about murder, as two little old ladies who, to the horror of their nephew, charitably kill lonely elderly gentlemen and then inter them in their basement with the full Christian burial of their choice.

“The irony of the sweet little old ladies could almost become more frightening than our sadistic murderous villain, if we weren’t having so much fun laughing at them,” she said. “The absurdity of this play makes it a safe place to be scared.”

“My concept for ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ is a pair of knitting needles knitting some sweet little doilies that turn into horrible multi-fanged snakes that eat all of the lace and spit up little colored jackets,” Harrop-Purser said. “Things are happy and beautiful, and then we realize they aren’t fine at all and become scared. As the play becomes more and more absurd, we realize that we never really were in danger.”

Other cast members are Jessica Montgomery as Elaine Harper, Ben Cummins as Mortimer Brewster, Matthew Carlin as Jonathan Brewster, David St. Julien as Dr. Einstein, Daniel Hess as Teddy Brewster, Rick Curtiss as Reverend Harper and Lt. Rooney, Jacob Moffat as Officer Brophy, Ryan Spille as Officer Klein, Graham Ward as Officer O’Hara, Ben Wake as Mr. Witherspoon and H.K. Baird as Mr. Gibbs.

The production team includes scenic designer Melissa Webb, costume designer Wendy Sanders, lighting designer Josh Gubler, sound designer Troy Streeter, production stage manager Jennifer McCall and dramaturge Hollie Beard.

For more information, contact Laurie Harrop-Purser at (801) 422-4262.

Writer: Angela Fischer

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