America's Oldest · Founded 1808

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE Serves Laughter at the Walnut Now Through April 27!

March 3, 2014

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 205th season with Broadway’s classic madcap comedy, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. Directed by Charles Abbott, this 75th Anniversary production begins previews on March 11th, opens on March 19th and runs through April 27th on the Walnut’s Mainstage.

Drama critic Mortimer Brewster is engaged to the lovely Elaine Harper... but will she fit in with his 'unusual' family? Abby and Martha Brewster are known throughout Brooklyn for their many acts of kindness and charity. But Mortimer has just learned that his charming spinster aunts have taken to relieving the loneliness of old men by inviting them in for a nice glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and "just a pinch" of cyanide! And, his brother believes that he's Teddy Roosevelt! What else can go wrong? Audiences will find out in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, one of the American theatre's funniest comedies.

Written by American playwright Joseph Kesselring, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE premiered on Broadway in January, 1941 and ran for 1444 performances. The show gained popularity after the film version was released in 1944 starring Cary Grant and directed by Frank Capra. Members of the original Broadway cast, including Jean Adair (Martha Brewster), Josephine Hull (Abby Brewster), and John Alexander (Teddy Brewster), were given permission to leave the stage production for a short while to reprise their roles in the film. A Broadway revival came in June, 1986 at the 46th Street Theatre.

Kesselring was a native New Yorker. During his career he wrote twelve plays, four of which were produced on Broadway. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE was his most successful. The play’s original title, Bodies in Our Cellar, was changed by producers before the play hit Broadway. The Walnut’s production of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE is produced in association with Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA.

Director Charles Abbott has been involved with the Walnut Street Theatre since its beginnings as a non-profit producing company in 1983. At the Walnut, he has served in many different capacities including actor, director, and choreographer for 28 productions. He is the recipient of five Barrymore nominations, winning for his direction of 42nd Street (2007) and his performance in Cabaret (1996). Abbott served as the Artistic Director for Maine State Music Theatre for 20 seasons, and has been a part both Broadway and National Touring productions. His directing credits at the Walnut include Hairspray, 42nd Street, Crazy for You, Annie and Sound of Music.

The Brewster’s beautiful Victorian home, laced with sweet hints of lunacy, sets the stage for hilarity. Walnut veteran Scenic Designer Robert Klingelhoefer (Good People, The Eclectic Society) is joined by Costume Designer Colleen Grady (Barrymore Award-winner – Fiddler on the Roof, An Ideal Husband), Lighting Designer Shon Causer (Good People, Love Story) and Sound Designer Jacob Mishler (Good People).

The cast is led by the deceptively delicious Brewster sisters, Mary Martello (Abby) and Jane Ridley (Martha). Walnut audiences will recognize Martello from The Music Man and Grease, and Ridley from Mrs. Kemble’s Tempest. Theatre critic Mortimer Brewster and his love interest, the beautiful Elaine Harper, are played by Damon Bonetti (The Glass Menagerie) and Jennie Eisenhower (An Ideal Husband), respectively. Ben Dibble (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Dan Olmstead (Amadeus) play the zany Brewster brothers Teddy and Jonathon. Adding to the madcap events are cast members Paul L. Nolan (Love Story), Fran Prisco (Elf), John Jarboe (Vincent in Brixton), Peter Schmitz (Hairspray), Laurent Giroux (Aspects of Love) and John-Charles Kelly (42nd Street).

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE runs at the Walnut March 11 through April 27. This production is sponsored by Citizen’s Bank. Media Sponsor is NBC 10. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster