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"Arsenic and Old Lace" in Glen Ellyn   - Project ID # 1630993
Project Type   Live Event Submission Type   Open Call
Location   Glen Ellyn, IL Union   Non-union
Rate/Pay   n/a Release Date   01-05-22
Audition Date   01-16-22 Submission Deadline   01-15-22
Shoot Date      
Casting Category   Theatre - Non-Equity
Market(s)   Chicago, IL>Milwaukee, WI

"Arsenic and Old Lace" opens in the living room of the Brewster home, inhabited by two spinster aunts, Abby and Martha Brewster, and their nephew, Teddy. The Reverend Dr. Harper is chatting with Abby about her other nephew, Mortimer, a drama critic who is in love with the reverend's daughter, Elaine. Soon joining the conversation are two friendly police officers, Brophy and Klein, who have come by (as they often do) to pick up a box for charity from the kindly Brewster sisters. Teddy, who is rather crazy but harmless, believes himself to be Theodore Roosevelt. He charges up the stairs to retrieve the box. The reverend and the policemen leave. Mortimer enters and announces to his aunts that he intends to marry Elaine, whom he is taking to a play that evening. Things begin to unravel as Mortimer lifts the lid to the window seat. He discovers the dead body of Mr. Hoskins and assumes that Teddy has killed him.

However, Abby and Martha tell Mortimer that it was they who poisoned the man with their homemade elderberry wine – and that he is the eleventh (or twelfth, depending on how you count) gentleman they have shared their wine with. The sisters explain that these are charitable acts: they befriend lonely older gentlemen who do not have much to live for and then kill them with elderberry wine laced with arsenic. Meanwhile Teddy is down in the cellar digging what he believes is the Panama Canal but is in reality the latest grave. Elaine arrives and an excited and worried Mortimer tells her they are not going to the theatre after all. After a brief quarrel, Elaine leaves. Mortimer and Teddy's brother Jonathan arrive. Jonathan, a true maniacal criminal, is accompanied by Dr. Einstein, a plastic surgeon of doubtful character. Dr. Einstein has operated on Jonathan so that he looks like Boris Karloff, the horror film star. Teddy invites Einstein to join him in the cellar, where he believes he is digging the Panama Canal. Einstein quickly returns and confides to Jonathan that there is a hole large enough to bury Mr. Spenalzo (a man Jonathan recently killed) after everyone goes to bed.

Once the lights are out and everyone is supposedly asleep, Teddy goes to the window seat to get Mr. Hoskins. At the same time Jonathan and Einstein go to their car to retrieve Mr. Spenalzo. Both plan on burying the bodies in the cellar. Several hilarious scenes ensue. Lights blink on and off, bodies are moved from the window seat to the cellar to the car outside, accusations and threats fly back and forth. Due to the commotion at the house, Officer O'Hara stops by to make sure all is well. When he is convinced that everything is alright, he shifts topics and corners Mortimer in a discussion of a play he is writing. Just then, Lieutenant Rooney bursts in and recognizes Jonathan as an escapee from a prison for the criminally insane. Jonathan tells the officers about the bodies in the cellar, but they don't believe him and take him off to prison. Einstein gets away, and Teddy is certified insane and taken to the Happy Dale Sanitarium.

Trying to protect society without sending his aunts to prison, Mortimer ecstatically agrees when his aunts insist on going to Happy Dale with their nephew. The aunts then kindly inform Mortimer that he is actually not a member of the Brewster family. He was an illegitimate child and thus can marry Elaine without fear of passing the Brewster insanity on to his children. Mortimer happily departs, but before the women leave their house, they offer a drink to the head of Happy Dale, Mr. Witherspoon. Witherspoon is a lonely older gentleman, and he gladly accepts a glass of the spiked elderberry wine.

Role # 1 - Abby Brewster Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(Female 50-70 years old or able to play age) A darling lady, and the very model of Victorian charm and grace, who poisons elderly gentlemen, with her sister as an act of charity. She and her sister Martha seem to be the absolute embodiment of the values and polite society of a bygone age. Both ladies are happy, healthy, lucid, and spry. The Aunt to Teddy, Jonathan, and Mortimer.

The actor wishing to secure the role of Abby Brewster must have a truly impressive knowledge of garnet rings, especially those of the English variety. They seem to be the absolute embodiment of the values and polite society of a bygone age. Of the two sisters, Abby is clearly the more dominant. As such, the actor who reads for this role must have an understanding of her dominance.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Female
Age: from 50 to 70
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 2 - Martha Brewster Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(Female 50-70 years old or able to play age) Very sweet, but more submissive than Abby. Martha still is a strong woman She does have a backbone, so don't portray her as a weakling. She and her sister have lived together for many, many years. Their personalities and pecking order around each other have been firmly rooted for eons. Many of Martha's qualities are mirrored in her sister. Always wears a high collar. The Aunt to Teddy, Jonathan, and Mortimer. The goal here is to show distinction from her sister and attack the role with truth but without stereotypes.

And those who take on the roles of Abby and Martha Brewster have the greatest challenge of all in creating unique, distinct interpretations. Yes, these wonderful older ladies have some very similar physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, and other traits. Still, GO FURTHER. Show how they are different. Show how they are their own person. And don't obsess exclusively over the moral pointed out earlier. Dominance and submission are not the exclusive game to be had in shaping the personalities of the Brewster sisters. What's more, and this applies to all actors in the show, don't just use your dialogue. Show your sense of Abby every bit if not more when she is silent as well as when she is speaking. Do not play a stereotypical old woman as you read for Abby. This is the mark of a novice performer. Neither should you to play the part as if she's 16. There's absolutely room to make use of a character voice. In fact, the roles of both aunts demand one. However, remember that both Abby and Martha are happy, healthy, lucid, and spry. Show these characters with some vitality. Something else to keep in mind, both aunts have AWESOME one-liners that will just send shockwaves of laughter through the audience. Find them. They're there, and your understanding of how they should be delivered will make or break your ability to secure this role for yourself in audition.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Female
Age: from 50 to 70
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 3 - Elaine Harper Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(Female 25-40 years old or able to play age) An attractive girl, daughter of Rev. Dr. Harper, and Mortimer's fiancée. Yet, she really doesn't play well the role of a minister's daughter. She is surprisingly wise in the ways of the world for a minister's daughter. She is a little bit wily, sassy, and absolutely sharp. We witness Elaine progress from casual happiness, to utter bliss, to twisted confusion, to stark fear, to godsend relief, and back to casual happiness again.

She's a deceptively interesting character. She is refinement mingled with the realities of a life that's been lived a bit beyond what might be expected given her upbringing. The actor seeking this role will show genuine zest and spunk. Truly, this role will be a challenge to perfect. The actor who seeks to take on Elaine must show tremendous versatility in audition. Sell every moment of Elaine. Practice transitions, and show why Mortimer is willing to settle down with this gal.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Female
Age: from 25 to 40
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 4 - Mortimer Brewster Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(Male 30-50 years old or able to play age) Nephew of Abby and Martha, brother to both Teddy and Jonathan Brewster. He's very likable and is in love with and engaged to Elaine Harper. A good-hearted cynic who is about to have his world turned upside down. PHYSICAL ROLE.

His day job is writing theatre reviews of the latest dregs premiering on Broadway and thereabouts. While you may find this potential line of work interesting, Mort hates it. His original position with the paper had him covering real estate, "which he actually knew something about." At any rate, he's also a novice writer of nonfiction. In a nutshell, he's an exceptionally intelligent guy who doesn't have proper outlet for his talents. As a result, he finds himself fuming with criticism for all things both in and outside his work life. Even so, he is a likable guy, and should be played as such. His care and affection for his dear aunts are immediately evident in the opening encounters he has with them. He's also deeply in love with Elaine Harper, a neighbor of his aunts. She's an exceptionally rare find for him, and he's quickly realized that she's the one who he cannot allow to slip away. Some of Mort's natural intellect slips out in a few of his opening lines. However, his real talents are revealed as he frantically thinks on his feet in order to preserve the best possible outcome for his beloved aunts once he realizes the full extent of their shenanigans. This selfless dedication to his family should exist as further evidence of his genuine decency. The actor who seeks this role must be comfortable to utterly let go from day one of the rehearsal process. Yes, the play requires an extremely strong ensemble. However, Mortimer controls the show. If Mortimer is weak, the show will not work. As such, we need to see absolute, raw energy in audition. As soon as the first body is discovered, Mortimer must be electrified. He carries that energy all the way through the duration of the show, with the possible exceptions of when he is tied up and when he departs with Elaine at the close of Act 3. In the audition show your understanding of the role. Mortimer must be played with an apt understanding of physical comedy, perfection of timing in dialog delivery, likability in presence, overemphasis in presentation, and an ability to display agility in navigating the rapidly changing circumstances of each scene.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 30 to 50
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 5 - Teddy Brewster Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(40-60 years old or able to Play age) Very likable, kindhearted brother to Mortimer and Jonathan, Nephew of Abby and Martha Brewster, Teddy is a man who believes that he is the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Extreme dedication and energy are necessary while charging up a flight of stairs and screaming "CHARGE!" PHYSICAL ROLE.

Seriously, this is of paramount important to the role. Teddy is a very likable fellow. Showing the audience when he's not Teddy is just as important. Try to find moments when the real Teddy Brewster shines through. He's a wonderful acting opportunity. Show us what you can do.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 40 to 60
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 6 - Jonathan Brewster Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(40-60 years old or able to play age) Nephew of Abby and Martha Brewster, brother to Teddy and Mortimer. Jonathan is a psychopath who has numerous murders to his credit and no scruples whatsoever. He is creepy and a very shady kind of guy. He's a killer, who loves his business and he's got an unbelievably short temper. As a child, he practiced his penchant for inflicting inhumane suffering on others with his brother Mortimer. He's not predictable, and he's certainly far from in-control of his emotions. He's the antagonist, and he does an amazing job at it. Keep in mind that he's been through numerous plastic surgeries to alter his appearance. The actor who seeks this role will display a truly menacing presence in audition. Truthfully, this guy doesn't have a single line of dialog written that is intended to illicit laughter. Anyway, he really is a very fun role to take on, and he provides a pretty interesting acting challenge. Clearly, he harbors a very deep-seeded animosity for Mortimer. We can speculate that this aggression developed out of the jealousy he held for the affection shown to Teddy and especially to Mortimer by their parents and, presumably, the greater family in general. The actor seeking this role should present him as severely sedate and looming in one instant, and wildly aggressive and animalistic in the next. He is one who is in control in most circumstances. When he cannot gain control, he does not become a pussy cat, but he definitely evades the scene rapidly. Show some creativity in audition.

Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 40 to 60
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 7 - Dr. Einstein Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(45-55 years old or able to play age) A German plastic surgeon, with an accent to prove it. Right hand to Jonathan, Dr. Einstein is mousey and submissive to him, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't know how to control him or at least how to attempt to control him. Einstein should be viewed as a good guy whose life has gone bad. The audience truly must sympathize with this guy. With somewhat of a ratty appearance, his face wears the benevolent smirk of a man who lives in a pleasant haze of alcohol. There is something about him that suggests the unfrocked priest. Now, take and do with these notes as you will in audition. However, keep in mind that Einstein should not be played overly intoxicated. The actor who seeks this role should also be able to display a thoroughly proficient ability to nail a German accent as well. This really is important.

Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Female
Age: from 45 to 55
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 8 - Reverend Dr. Harper Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(50-70 years old or able to play age) (Cameo) We only see Elaine Harper's father in the opening scene; a Doctor of Divinity, and the minister to the church next door to the Brewster house. The Brewster sisters have seen many ministers come and go over the years, but they seem to be particularly fond of Dr. Harper and vice versa. The actor portraying Dr. Harper should display a sense of polish, refinement, and mild-mannered sensitivity towards others. Still, he's no pushover. He is not in favor of Mortimer and Elaine's relationship. He displays an inexhaustible sense of kindness for the Brewster sisters, but his affection for them has suffered a bit in recent months as his daughter has begun dating their nephew Mortimer. He feels very much at ease giving voice to his concerns for his daughter and her relationship with the Brewsters' nephew.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 50 to 70
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 9 - Officer Brophy Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(25-45 years old or able to play age) (Cameo) The first police officer we meet in the show, Brophy is a thoroughly likable sort of fellow. Is making his rounds collecting Christmas toys for the needy. Some PHYSICAL work.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 25 to 45
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 10 - Officer Klein Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(25-45 years old or able to play age) (Cameo) A flatfoot Brooklyn officer who makes his rounds with Officer Brophy collecting Christmas toys.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 25 to 45
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 11 - Officer O'Hara Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
( Cameo) He is the quintessential example of an Irish-American police officer: Full of life, good natured and played big. Well intentioned, O'Hara really doesn't mean to come across as annoying as he does.
Clearly, given much of the dialog that's offered, we know he's on very good terms with the aunts. We can probably believe that he's one of the closest members of the police force who has gotten to know them. The actor seeking this role needs to plainly display the nagging, persistent drive that's kindled within him once he discovers that Mortimer is a famous dramatic critic. O'Hara also requires a fairly believable portrayal of heavy intoxication. It's possible to go too far with this, and it's certainly possible to come across totally inappropriately. Try to find some balance.

Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 18 to 60
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 12 - Mr. Gibbs Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(55-80 years old or able to play age) (Cameo) An elderly quiet gentleman who wishes to rent a room from the Brewster sisters; and nearly falls victim to the sisters' "charity". He is a little gruff, but he warms up fairly quickly upon being offered a treat he hasn't had since he was a child. He also has an opportunity to display stark fear once Mortimer frantically chases him from the clutches of his aunts. Again, it's really a nice part. It offers some challenges.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 55 to 80
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 13 - Lieutenant Rooney Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(50's years old or able to play age) (Cameo) The man in charge at the local police precinct. Very early in the show we gain a pretty strong understanding of the caliber of men he has to manage under his watch. As such, he has very little patience for blunder and mistakes, most of which he deems inexcusable. He needs to run a pretty tight ship. He is loud, decisive, and clearly in-charge of every situation in which he finds himself. The actor who seeks this role will be able to display a strong, commanding presence.


Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 50 to 60
Ethnicity: Any -

Role # 14 - Mr. Witherspoon Submit yourself for this role
Seeking 1 talent(s) for this role
(50-60s years old or able to play age) (Cameo) The superintendent of Happy Dale Sanitarium. Very mild mannered and kind. He should be played with a gentle, reserved dynamic. He's a bit advanced in years, and he's certainly seen it all with regards to human behavior. As such, very little catches him off-guard.

Searchable talent specs:
Gender: Male
Age: from 50 to 69
Ethnicity: Any -