Pumphouse Players to open 39th season with 'Arsenic and Old Lace'
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 06, 2013 | 1719 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For Pumphouse Players President Mike Harris, directing the community theater group’s season opener will be a reunion of sorts. Since Harris was about 20, he has worn many hats in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” working his way to the director’s chair.

“I seem to be cosmically linked to ‘Arsenic and Old Lace,’” Harris said. “This is the play about the two elderly ladies who, out of mercy, poison some of their gentlemen boarders. The show is an old classic — Cary Grant starred in the movie version of it — that every community theater in the world has probably done.

“My first romantic lead was in ‘Arsenic’ when I was 19 or 20. I played Mortimer, the ‘normal’ son who is engaged just as the ladies’ secret is discovered. This was my first big role. Fast forward more than two decades and I appeared in my first show at The Legion Theatre in Cartersville in … ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ Only this time I’m playing one of the elderly victims. ... Fast forward another 10 years and now I’m directing the next production of ‘Arsenic,’ the first show of our new season in July. See what I mean? This show keeps coming back to me.”

To be presented at The Legion Theatre — 114 W. Main St., Cartersville — the play will be performed July 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and July 21 at 3 p.m. Joining “Arsenic and Old Lace” in the Pumphouse Players’ 39th season will be the following seven productions: “Convention: Two Days of Comic Books Gone Bad,” “Bad Seed,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Murder by the Book,” “Play It Again, Sam,” “Agnes of God” and “Wait Until Dark.”

“Our goal was to do plays that would appeal to our community because we are a community theater,” said Meghann K. Humphreys, PHP vice president, and special events and marketing chair. “[Even though] we didn’t realize it at the time, it seems that the majority of our plays have some sort of theme relating to murder. ... ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ has murder, after that ‘Convention: Two Days of Comic Books Gone Bad’ — I think we get away with not having murder in that one. But right after that ‘Bad Seed’ — murder; ‘Murder by the Book,’ obviously; ‘Agnes of God’ has murder in it; and then ‘Wait Until Dark,’ again, murder.

“... We didn’t realize it then but now it’s kind of funny. The only shows we don’t have that are again, ‘Convention,’ ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ which is the first musical we’ve had in a very long time at the theater, and ‘Play It Again, Sam’ does not have murder. That’s the play written by Woody Allen. It’s going to be a very fun season. We tried to look at the cast sizes in the plays, what the demands were for staging and whether or not they just appealed to us and whether they would appeal to the community based on past shows that we’ve done at the Legion.”

As in past seasons, The Pumphouse Players is promoting the arts by extending its offerings beyond its productions. A key example of this is the formation of Pumphouse Junior, which is a division of the local community theater group. Open to youth ages 5 to 18, Pumphouse Junior is offering four productions in its inaugural season. Following its opener, “A Little Princess,” which wrapped up June 30, will be “Willabella Witch’s Last Spell,” “Round the World Tales” and “Henry and Ramona.”

“Primarily, we don’t want our theater to be dark when we’re not doing a show,” Humphreys said. “We also wanted to bring in other members of the community who maybe haven’t been to The Legion Theatre before. ... We just wanted to offer more variety, not just plays, so we’re going to have Alias, Smith & Owens Patriotic Cowboy Show on July 6 and that’s going to be a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.

“... We’re also going to have nights throughout the year where writers can workshop original work, like plays that they have written. We’re going to have more improv nights. We’re going to have a family game night in November [and] another Thanksgiving-eve opportunity ... [for] people who maybe don’t have family in town who are looking for people to congregate with and share food. We’re going to have members-only events again, like the Christmas Parade Party that we had last year. We’re going to have that again this year [Dec. 5]. We’re just going to have a lot of different things to offer.”

For more information about The Pumphouse Players’ offerings, call 770-387-2610 or visit www.pumphouseplayers.com.