Dinner and a movie? How about dinner and live theater!

W.H.A.T. presents ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

Photo by Jennifer Vazquez
W.H.A.T.’s Artistic Director Joe Ferreiro (sitting at left) and “Arsenic and Old Lace” Director Sue Mandzick- Davis guide the actors during rehearsal.



By Jennifer Vazquez

Observer Correspondent


The West Hudson Arts and Theater Company is busy at it again! This time, W.H.A.T. is preparing for its first-ever dinner theater performance of “Arsenic and Old Lace” set to take place on Nov. 16 and 17.

‘“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a screwball, farcical black comedy that has seen success in both stage and the big screen. In fact, the 1940s movie adaptation starred Cary Grant in the role of Mortimer Brewster.

The story centers on the Mortimer Brewster who goes back home to visit the family who raised him –his two (now) elderly aunts Abby and Martha Brewster. However, Mortimer soon finds out that his sweet, dear aunts are murdering lonely bachelor’s by offering them wine laced with arsenic as a means of escaping their lonely existence. Though the plot seems rather morbid it is infused with hilarity. Especially when it comes to the antics of Mortimer’s brother, Teddy Brewster, who firmly believes he is Theodore Roosevelt and his other brother Jonathan Brewster (who is also visiting) and has undergone plastic surgery as a means of covering up his murderous ways.

W.H.A.T.’s Artistic Director Joe Ferreiro, who is also set to appear in the theater company’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and Sue Mandzik Davis, the production’s director, are excited for opening night, despite the fact that rehearsals have been derailed on numerous occasions due to the inclement whether the northeast has been experiencing these past few weeks.

“Rehearsals have been a challenge because of the weather,” Davis said.

Ferreiro echoed Davis’ statement, adding:

“We’ve lost a whole week because of Sandy and another day because of the snow storm.”

Nevertheless, the entire cast and crew are committed to putting on a great show.

“We have the best people,” Davis said proudly. “They really love what they do and are working hard for the play to come together in time for opening night.”

While everyone is excited about this play, “Arsenic and Old Lace” was not the initial production that was planned.

“We were actually going to do ‘Steel Magnolias,’” Davis explained. “We had everything ready for auditions but the publishing company pulled the rights.”

When this took place, the W.H.A.T. committee had to go back to square one –choose a play to perform. That’s when “Arsenic and Old Lace” was given the green light.

Though every one who is involved in the production is quite excited for the performances that are fast approaching, there is a bit of anxious anticipation regarding the dinner theater performance on Saturday.

The dinner theater performance, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, is a joint fundraiser produced in conjunction with the Arlington Junior Woman’s Club.

“I hosted a murder mystery dinner the (AJWC) held,” Ferreiro said, explaining how the idea of having a dinner performance came about. “That (dinner) went so successfully that we thought we could incorporate that concept into one of our shows.”

The dinner will take place starting at 6 p.m., right before Saturday’s evening performance. Dinner will be catered and take place at the cafeteria located in the W.H.A.T. premises. The cafeteria will be formally decorated to create a fantastic ambiance to all who are partaking in this pre-show feast. Dessert will be served right after Act 1 -during intermission, according to Davis.

W.H.A.T. was conceived as a joint effort between many individuals and surrounding towns. The purpose behind it is to be a cultural resource that will enrich and invigorate the West Hudson community as a whole while embracing, educating and entertaining people of all ages, cultures and abilities,” according to their official website.

Those who form part of this organization, including the chairs and actors, are dedicated to the arts –setting aside time from their busy schedules to rehearse and contribute to W.H.A.T.

This is the theater’s company second season. Though, still a young organization, it is showing much promise and has been received and welcomed by the surrounding communities. They are now housed at 131 Midland Ave. General admission for nondinner theater performances is $12. Senior (65 and older) and student (with valid I.D.) tickets are $10.

Tickets for the dinner theater performance are $40. However, show-only tickets at the general admission prices are available for the Saturday evening performance as well.

For more information on “Arsenic and Old Lace,” W.H.A.T. or to purchase tickets visit www.whatco.org or call 201-467-8624. Tickets (except for the dinner theater performance) can also be purchased at the door half an hour prior to curtain but you run the risk of the show being sold-out by then!

Learn more about the writer ...

+ posts