For a smaller school like Saint Lawrence Academy, it’s often difficult to find enough students to participate in activities, but for Santa Clara’s Saint Lawrence Academy, talent and interest comes in droves. In fact, the Visual and Performing Arts program, run by Mary Carroll, is so popular that starting this year the department is performing a fall drama in addition to the spring musical.
“Saint Lawrence is adding a fall drama production to its annual performing arts calendar, starting this year” said Carroll. “It’s a smaller scale show, with a smaller venue – the Little Theater classroom on campus – and has a cut-policy, unlike the spring show, which has no cuts.”
For its inaugural performance, St. Lawrence chose to put on Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic and Old Lace. The play, written in 1939, is a black comedy revolving around the Brewster family and the sisters, Abby and Matha, who murder lonely old men by poisoning them with a glass of homemade elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine and “just a pinch” of cyanide. The story is complicated by the brother, Teddy, who believes he is actually Theodore Roosevelt, and spends much of his time digging locks for the Panama Canal in the basement – which unbeknown to him, is the location where the sisters bury their victims. The story turns when Jonathan Brewster, the trio’s homicidal brother, shows up unannounced.
“This year, I chose Arsenic and Old Lace, had auditions the first week of school in August and cast 14 students – four freshman, three sophomores, four juniors and three seniors,” said Carroll. “Seniors Bita Shahi and Kristina Lindh starred as Abby Brewster and Martha Brewster, respectively â€¦ The most interesting story regarding the cast is that our star, Bita Shahi, has never been in a play before, although she’s been my backstage manager for three years. Bita was also on my improvisation team, but has never actually performed on stage. She was a natural.”
One of the more unique features of the cast was that a female played the role of Teddy Brewster. “Junior Mariah Marshall nearly stole the show as Teddy,” said Carroll.
The Little Theater, a classroom that holds 100 people, was transformed into the Brewster home with the help of dedicated parents throughout the course of the first two months of school. And, during the show, eight students, led by junior Matthew Ghan, ran the tech. “Using the Little Theater created an air of excitement around campus about the show, and nearly all my choir and drama students also supported the production by attending it,” said Carroll.
Saint Lawrence Academy’s Visual and Performing Arts Department will next perform “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” March 26-28, 2015. Additional information can be found at www.saintlawrenceacademy.com/studentlife/performing-arts/musical/index.aspx