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Comedy of murders comes to Tualatin High's little theater

'Arsenic & Old Lace' is opening Wednesday.


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Morgan Olsen and Rossa Nunan play the parts of Abby and Rev. Harper in 'Arsenic & Old Lace' at Tualatin High School.Does your family sometimes drive you crazy? At least they're not the Brewsters.

Joseph Kesselring's classic play about a dysfunctional (and murderous) family in New York City circa 1940, Arsenic & Old Lace, is being staged this week and next at Tualatin High School.

“I think it'll be a people-pleaser,” said freshman Laurel Gray, one of the actresses who portrays a police officer in the play.

Director and drama teacher Stephen Jackson-Clark described the show as a more traditional and “straightforward” production than some of the others that Tualatin High has put on recently, such as the avant-garde Thornton Wilder play The Skin of Our Teeth this past fall.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Erin McBain and Nikos Jordan play the parts of Elaine and Mortimer in 'Arsenic & Old Lace,' Tualatin High School's new play.“I've done it a couple of times before,” said Jackson-Clark, admitting he was reluctant when his students suggested doing “Arsenic & Old Lace” last year.

But, he continued, “I kept rereading it and kept thinking about the students that we had, and I realized that it's this amazing dark comedy from 1940, that there's a reason it's one of the most popular plays that high schools put on, and that we had the students to do it justice. So as much as I was resisting it personally, it ultimately made sense that it would be the best production for us to do.”

Junior Camryn Gray, a veteran of Tualatin High School Theatre, plays one of the batty, homicidal Brewster aunts, Martha.

“It's a fun character, but definitely hard to connect to, since I'm not an old lady and I don't kill people,” she said. “But I think that's one of the fun things about it.”

This is Camryn Gray's sixth play at Tualatin High.

“I like being able to entertain people and express myself in different ways,” she explained. “In this life, we're all given one person to be, but acting allows me to be different people — like an old person who kills someone.”

Her sister Laurel added, “I kind of consider myself a shy person. … Public speaking scares me, going up in front of crowds scares me, but being able to be a different character kind of allows me to, like, lose that stress and anxiety and just be myself, which is really nice.”

“Arsenic & Old Lace” opens Wednesday with a 3:30 p.m. matinee. There will be evening performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through March 12, with another matinee next Wednesday, March 9.

The play is being staged in the Studio Theatre, with a seating capacity of about 80. Reservations are recommended due to space being limited. Jackson-Clark can be contacted about reserving seats at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Admission to the evening performances is $10 for adults, $7 for students and $5 for children and senior citizens. Admission to the matinees is $5 for all.

Tualatin High is located at 22300 S.W. Boones Ferry Rd.

As with previous plays directed by Jackson-Clark, there are two casts who will alternate performances.

TIMES PHOTO: MARK MILLER - Katie Blank and Jeffrey Kennedy appear as Martha and Teddy Brewster in the school play opening this week at Tualatin High School, 'Arsenic & Old Lace.'