2005-09-02 / Columnists

Audiences Drink ‘


with Gusto
A Wave Review

Bernie Bossio as Dr. Einstein.
Bernie Bossio as Dr. Einstein. On August 19, the curtain went up on The Rockaway Theatre Company’s third major production in a season of unprecedented theatrical excellence and an audience breathless with anticipation was not disappointed. While Joseph Kesselring’s classic comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, has long been a mainstay in community theatres around the country, the production presently running at the Post Theatre in Fort Tilden is probably the finest interpretation of the wacky antics of the Brewster Family ever presented on any stage.

Kudos to two very talented young directors, Roger Gonzalez and David Risley, who have managed to assemble a perfect ensemble cast of actors that step effortlessly into the lives of the Zany Brewsters and their cohorts. Martha White and Janet Miserandino are wonderful as the sweet little Brewster aunts, Abby and Martha, who kindly quench the thirst of their visitors with their own delicious homemade elderberry wine. Fred Kaminiski, in the role of nephew Teddy, plays a mean bugle and spends most of his time digging the Panama Canal in the basement. The aunts receive an unwelcome visit from their sinister nephew Jonathan (Frank Freeman) accompanied by the evil, but hilarious, Doctor Einstein, (Bernie Bosio) two characters who bring to mind the great film actors Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, respectively. Mortimer, their “sane” nephew, skillfully played by a wonderful young comic actor, Frank Caiati and his young fiancée, Elaine, played by Rockaway’s own lovely Kerry O’Connor, round out the eccentric group of denizens and visitors to this lovely old Victorian home in Brooklyn, artfully recreated in this incredible set. Add three or four equally wacky members of New York’s finest, played by Matthew Smilardi, Steven Ackerman, Charles Esser and Roger Gonzalez to the mix and you’ve got comedy as sweet as elderberry wine itself.

The cast and crew of the RTC’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
The cast and crew of the RTC’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Over the past two weekends the show has received nothing but raves from sell-out audiences. This is not just another tired retread of a well-worn comedy. Directors Roger Gonzalez and David Risley have breathed new life into this classic with truly hysterical results. If you’ve never seen Arsenic and Old Lace you are in for a rare treat. If you think you have seen Arsenic and Old Lace, you are mistaken. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen RTC’s terrific interpretation. As audience member Sal Trento, of Belle Harbor, exclaimed on opening night, “I’ve seen this show many times and I’ve even acted in a production of Arsenic, but I’ve never enjoyed the play so much before. This certainly is the definitive production. At these prices anyone who misses it is crazier than all the Brewsters combined.”

Frank Ciati as Mortimer Brewster.
Frank Ciati as Mortimer Brewster. Time is running out. The final performances will take place on Friday, September 1, and Saturday, September 2 at 8 p.m. The Rockaway Theatre Company, which is conveniently located right here at Gateway National Recreation Area in Fort Tilden, offers plenty of free parking and is handicap accessible. At $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for seniors and children, tickets are going very quickly. Call the RTC hotline at (718) 850-2450 and make your reservations before it is too late.

Martha White as Aunt Abby.
Martha White as Aunt Abby.

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