Screwball comedy might be just what the world needs right now, but for the safety of the cast and audience, the Grandview Carriage Place Players’ production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” has been postponed.
Originally scheduled April 2-5, the show currently is set for May 21-24 at the Columbus Performing Art Center, 549 Franklin Ave.
The troupe was forced to postpone the production after Gov. Mike DeWine last week announced gatherings of 100 or more people would be temporarily banned in the state, and when the city of Grandview Heights closed the Grandview Center beginning March 13 until further notice due to health concerns from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“We don’t have a place to rehearse for the next few weeks,” director John Heisel said. “We’re still a little stunned.”
The group has been working on its new show since January, he said.
Rehearsals are held at the Grandview Center and at the Carriage Place Community Center in Columbus, also closed.
All activities, including classes, at the Grandview Center have been postponed until at least early April, recreation supervisor Marta Durban said.
The cast recently had gone “off book” to begin performing the play without using the script, Heisel said.
“The show’s getting so close to being ready to go,” Durban said, “but it’s better to err on the side of caution, and so (Mayor Greta Kearns) let us know we should suspend all of our parks and recreation activities.”
When the show does go on, it will be a presentation of one of the classics, Heisel said.
“It’s a comedy, and one of the most enduring through the decades,” he said. “It’s still funny. Everybody still laughs along with it.”
Many people know the play from the classic movie starring Cary Grant and Raymond Massey, Heisel said, in which Grant discovers his beloved aunts have been poisoning their lodgers.
“I noticed that this play uses a lot of the same devices that Alfred Hitchcock used in his movies,” he said, “so we’re doing a sort of a homage to Hitchcock.
“You have the character played by Cary Grant, who was in a lot of Hitchcock movies, in an extraordinary situation where he has no idea what is happening, which happens a lot in Hitchcock’s films,” Heisel said. “You have the body of a murdered person that keeps being moved. And we’ll have the Hitchcock tradition of the director having a cameo in the show.
“That’s me. I play the murder victims – the ones they keep killing off.”
The cast members for the show arrived for a scheduled rehearsal March 12 to find out the news that the play would be postponed and rehearsals at the Grandview Center canceled until further notice.
“I just walked in 10 minutes ago and heard,” said Mark Dubovec, a Grandview resident who plays Jonathan Brewster, the murderous brother of the play’s main character, Mortimer.
“It’s disappointing, but when you hear about the NHL and the MLS suspending their seasons, it’s not too surprising,” he said.
Daniel Smail said there may be a silver lining to the postponement of the play.
“It will give us enough time to really go over our lines and give us a chance to let them sink in,” he said. “It might help us enhance our performances once we get back.”
For now, the show is planned to be staged at 7 p.m. May 21-23 and 2 p.m. May 24. Tickets at the door will cost $5.