EPHS staging comedy ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ Feb. 2-4

EPHS staging comedy ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ Feb. 2-4

Audiences should prepare to be thoroughly entertained by the Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) Drama Club’s upcoming performance of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

The shows will be performed on Thursday 2nd February, Friday 3rd February and Saturday 4th February at 7pm in the school auditorium, plus a 2pm matinee on Saturday 4th February.

Viewers are drawn to the twists and turns of the hilarious, fast-paced script. All of the characters – from leads to corpses – are brought to life (or, in some cases, death) by talented student actors who are totally dedicated to their comedic roles.

The detailed and expansive sets, specially designed costumes and dramatic lighting transport the audience to the Brewster family home in St. Paul in 1941.


Although a comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace is based on a true crime that took place in Connecticut between 1908 and 1916. Kari Beutz, the show’s director and EPHS English teacher, described the plot as follows:

“On the surface, Abby and Martha Brewster are sweet, generous, and caring old ladies, but their nephew Mortimer soon discovers they are serial killers. What’s worse, her latest victim’s body is hidden on the windowsill in her living room where anyone could find it!

“Mortimer does his best to dispose of the evidence before his new fiancé, Elaine, finds out, but his plans are thwarted when his psychopathic serial killer brother, Johnny, along with his plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein comes to visit. ”

Beutz says she and the students decided to perform this play “because it’s just fun.” we all have to laugh after what we have been through over the last few years!”

The cast and crew performed a full dress rehearsal on Wednesday, February 1st to a small, appreciative audience.

Marit Kniffen, who plays Abby Brewster, said the funnest part of the performance was “finally being able to do it for someone. Finally saying those lines that we keep repeating, over and over, and seeing people laugh and react to them.

“So that it’s something people enjoy and not something weird, we’re doing it in a warm auditorium in the back of the high school for no one but maybe a few techies in the house.”

Kniffen was happy to finally be able to perform in front of an audience.

Meanwhile, Noah Lins, who helped German cosmetic surgeon and criminal accomplice Dr. Einstein plays to a perfect comic twist that his favorite part of the play is “moving the bodies.”

Tickets for Arsenic and Old Lace are available online through Vanco Events at this link. All tickets are general admission and cost $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

Noah Lins (left) and Aidan Gordy (right) as Johnny Brewster trying to move the body
her victim Mr. Spenalzo, played by Laiah Matzke.

Vintage props include a Victorian sofa donated by the Eden Prairie Historical Society

The play’s set features vintage props and retro furniture reminiscent of a 1940’s home in St. Paul. The intricate set features two visible floors, including fully functional staircases and multiple doors, adding to the realism.

Beutz also praised the “beautiful” period costumes created by Carolyn Leppala.

“She’s so creative and has so many great ideas,” said Beutz.

Beutz said it was fun using vintage props, including an old-fashioned rotary phone. She said some of the drama students had never used one and didn’t realize they had to pick up the phone or use the dial.

“It was like a little history lesson there,” she joked.

The antique Victorian sofa in the Brewster’s living room is a very special piece of furniture donated to the production by the Eden Prairie Historical Society.

“I discovered it at a vintage auction at the Eden Prairie Historical Society last fall,” Beutz said. Although the object was in a rough state, Beutz thought it might be perfect for the performance.

“I stopped again towards the end of the day and they said, ‘If you can pick it up, you can have it,'” she said.

The sofa was in poor condition and needed to be dismantled and refinished – see photos of the process in the image gallery below.

“A couple of crew members ripped out all the old upholstery, cleaned them, then took a couple of my old curtains and reupholstered them,” Beutz said. “So that was kind of a labor of love. Now it looks great on stage.”

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