RIVER FALLS -- Turn your dials -- or actually, touch your screens -- to tune into the “Arsenic and Old Lace” radio show performance by the River Falls Community Theatre.
The virtual production models the feel of the age of radio broadcast, complete with advertisements for both old-fashion products and local River Falls businesses.
The Brewster sisters Abby and Martha are well-loved in their community where sweet old ladies raised their three nephews. There’s the play reviewer Mortimer, played by Nathan Ireland, who’s planning to marry his sweetheart. There’s Teddy, played by Scotter Peterson, who is sweet, but also happens to think he’s President Theodore Roosevelt. And then there’s Jonathan, played by Ricky Jacobson, the black sheep who ran off long ago.
Mortimer is preparing for a nice night with his fiancee, when the discovery of a body in his aunts’ window seat throws the evening, and his life, into disarray.
The play is a classic, Director Gordon Hedahl said, with a fun set up.
“It’s funny and it’s clever and it’s got a nice set of characters that are really enjoyable to watch,” Hedahls said.
One of the best parts of the production is its comedy, Ireland said.
“I thought everyone of these actors really got into their parts very well,” he said. “They did a really nice take on these characters.”
The theater program has not been able to do live shows since March, but has been working to provide virtual entertainment during the pandemic.
Ireland, the community theater president, said it feels good to be able to put on a production like this.
“A few of the actors that come to work with us have commented that it’s nice to have something, some kind of outlet,” he said.
Though virtual rehearsals have felt different and the live reaction isn’t there from the audience, Ireland said they’re doing what they can.
It’s quite a change, Hedahl said, but he really enjoyed it.
“We can’t do that live right now, so this seems to be a really fun approach to bringing the theater back to the town,” he said. “We can’t get together face to face, but we can still get together and do some plays”
The virtual production does a good job of capturing the fun of live theater, managing to pull off moments of action and still paying attention to lighting. Ireland edited the production, putting together hours worth of footage.
“Old Lace and Arsenic” is free to watch, but donations are gladly accepted, as expenses for the nonprofit organization have continued through the pandemic.
“We want to advocate for local produced theater,” Ireland said. “Anybody can turn on Netflix and watch Hollywood production, but this is a chance to see something made right here in our community, with people you can run into at the grocery store.”
View the production at rfcommunitytheatre.org through Nov. 29.