Shopping Cart
Your cart is empty.

        We accept PayPal, Visa & Mastercard
        through our secure checkout.




Arsenic and Old Lace

Arsenic and Old Lace
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Biz Bestseller!
Author: Joseph Kesselring
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 96
Pub. Date: 1969
ISBN-10: 0822200651
ISBN-13: 9780822200659
Cast Size: 3-8 female, 6-11 male

About the Play:

Arsenic and Old Lace is a full-length comedy-thriller by Joseph Kesselring. The plot follows the lives of the Brewster sisters, who have a habit of poisoning elderly bachelors and then burying them in their basement in their New York mansion while their dashing nephew attempts to stop their murderous lifestyle and hide the fact from the police. The bodies pile up and the plot thickens. Especially recommended for school and contest use.

Arsenic and Old Lace details a series of events experienced by the erratic Brewster family, who live in Brooklyn in the 1940s. The hero, Mortimer Brewster is living a happy life: he's a New York newspaper critic, he's about to marry the preacher's daughter, and he's off to visit his sweet spinster aunts to announce the engagement. It's murder most funny as the homicidal Brewster sisters take to relieving the loneliness of old men by inviting them in for a nice glass of homemade elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and just a pinch of cyanide. Once Mortimer finds out, the surprises don't stop. We meet the charming and innocent ladies who populate their cellar with the remains of socially and religiously "acceptable" roomers; the antics of their brother, Teddy, who believes himself to be the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, and digs locks for the Panama Canal in the cellar of the Brewster home; and the re-appearance of a long-lost murderous brother, Jonathan, who has received plastic surgery performed by an alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein. Will Mortimer make it through this day with his sanity intact? Will he even make it out alive? Arsenic and Old Lace is a deliciously tongue-in-cheek thriller that remains dear to the hearts (and funnybones) of modern audiences. It has become a must for all high school and community theatres; a ready-made comedy hit.

Arsenic and Old Lace was a smash hit on Broadway for four straight years, opening in 1941 at the Fulton Theatre and closing at the Hudson Theatre in 1944 after over 1400 performances. The West End production in London opened in 1942 at the Strand Theatre and is the second-longest-running comedy on the British stage. It's still enormously popular, and has been a staple of community theatres, regional repertory houses, and high schools since then.

Cast: 3 female, 11 male (alternate casting 3-8 female, 6-11 male, +2 dead bodies, some doubling possible)

What people say:

"Let's not exaggerate! At some time there may have been a funnier murder charade than Arsenic and Old Lace ... but the supposition is purely academic. Joseph Kesselring has written one so funny none of us will ever forget it." — The New York Times

"...guaranteed to make even dramatic critics care about theatre." — The New York Post

"...the most riotously hilarious comedy of the season." — The Herald Tribune

" wouldn't believe homicidal mania could be so funny." — The Sun

About the Playwright:

Joseph Otto Kesselring (1902-1967) was an American writer and playwright. His career was always linked in some way to the theatre. His early years were spent as a singer (boy soprano and adult tenor), and at the age of twenty, he began teaching music and directing amateur theatre productions at Bethel College in Newton, Kansas. At twenty-three, he left academia to pursue acting, writing short stories, and producing vaudeville plays. He authored twelve plays – mostly light comedies – and is known best for his play Arsenic and Old Lace, written in 1939 and originally entitled Bodies in Our Cellar.

Every year, the Kesselring Prize Committee selects 15 theatres across the United States that are active in developing and presenting the work of new playwrights, and asks those theatres to nominate a playwright for a $10,000 cash award. Funded by a bequest of Joseph Kesselring's widow Charlotte, the Kesselring Prize was first given by the National Arts Club in 1980.