Oklahoma Baptist University will debut an all-faculty production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" Labor Day weekend, just in time for students who will arrive on campus for the fall semester expecting to only see their professors in the classroom.
The cast is made up entirely of current and retired faculty representing the fields of language and literature, music, art, telecommunication, business, chemistry, biology and theatre.
The play will run Aug. 29-30 and Sept. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Sarkey's Theatre on the OBU campus. Tickets can be reserved by calling the OBU theatre box office from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 405-878-2347.
Director, Laura Byland, OBU assistant professor of theatre, wanted to do the all-faculty production at the beginning of the school year before professors' schedules became too hectic. Helped by senior theatre majors Kelli Kiser, stage manager, and Tana Fleming, assistant stage manager, Byland led rehearsals throughout the summer and oversaw the four-week creation of the set.
"Arsenic and Old Lace" is a frequently performed comedy by Joseph Kesselring. Set in a large victorian house, the story focuses on a pair of charming elderly ladies who seek to end the suffering of people who cross their path. Unfortunately for some of the lonely men that find their way into the ladies' home, this inevitably means a trip to "Panama." The combination of a love story between their nephew, Mortimer, and the minister's daughter, Elaine, and impersonations of Teddy Roosevelt and Boris Karloff creates an instant comedy hit.
"This play is just so funny," Byland said. "You just laugh. That's what people love about it. Even though it's somewhat morbid, we find it entertaining.
"It's also very entertaining that faculty members are the characters. It's really effective when done with an age-appropriate cast."
OBU cast members include Dr. Ramona Farthing, professor of French, as Abby Brewster, Rhetta Hudson, associate professor of music, as Martha Brewster, Aaron Jones, instructor of art, as Mortimer Brewster, and Dr. Joyce Aldridge, assistant professor of theatre, as Elaine Harper.
Other members of the cast are Dr. David Byland, associate professor of telecommunication, as Teddy Brewster, Dr. John Cragin, Cargill professor of business, as Jonathan Brewster, Dr. Brad Jett, Hurley associate professor of biology , as Dr. Einstein, and Dr. Joe Hall, retired professor of English, as Rev. Dr. Harper.
Also in the cast will be James Brown, professor emeritus of music, as Mr. Witherspoon, Dr. Mark Hemric, associate professor of chemistry, as Officer O'Hara, Dr. Roger Hadley, professor of telecommunication, as Lieutenant Rooney, and Dr. Michael Jordan, assistant professor of chemistry, as Officer Brophy.
The part of the victim Mr. Gibbs will be played each night by a different surprise cameo.
"The cast is incredibly committed," Byland said. "They don't whine, they give 100 percent and they are hard workers."
OBU has produced a few other all-faculty productions including "Backyard Story" in 1985, "Little Mary Sunshine" in 1977, "The Consul" in 1970 and "Solid Gold Cadillac" in 1958.
Ticket prices are $7 for adults or $21 for an adult season pass, including tickets to four plays during 2002-03 season.
Reserved tickets will be held 24 hours without payment. Seating begins 30 minutes prior to performances and late seating is at the discretion of the house manager. Reserved seats that are unclaimed 15 minutes prior to performance will be sold.