Washougal High students to present ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

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The Washougal High School drama department will present its production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” this month, with shows at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at Washburn Theater. Tickets cost $5 and will be available for sale at the door.

“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a play by American playwright Joseph Kesselring, written in 1939. It has become best known through the 1944 film adaptation starring Cary Grant and directed by Frank Capra. The play is a farcical black comedy revolving around the Brooklyn, New York-based Brewster family, descended from Mayflower settlers but now composed of maniacs, most of them homicidal.

“This is a classic 1940s farce,” Washougal High drama teacher Kelly Gregersen said. “It’s just as madcap and goofy as you want to get. It’s totally fun, absurd, and definitely focused on family and the fact that our families are our families, for better or for worse.”

Gregersen said that his students chose “Arsenic and Old Lace” after expressing their desire for an older play after focusing on more contemporary pieces during the 2022-23 school year.

“This is my 20th year here, so they’re starting to go, ‘Can we do shows that (Washougal High students) did a long time ago?’” Gregersen said. “I actually (directed) this show my first year here in 2005. The kids went, ‘We weren’t born when (that) happened. Can we do it again?’ There were a few plays they were looking at, and a lot of them were these older pieces. This is what they decided they wanted to do, and to me, it’s just one of the great American comedies, so I was thrilled they chose something that I think is a great piece.”