The Community Theatre of Howell’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” takes the stage Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-3. From now until opening night, the Livingston Post is introducing you to members of the cast and production staff.
Steve Shelton picked a great role for his CTH debut.
A longtime theater fixture in Lansing-area theater groups, Shelton is appearing for the first time on the Howell stage in “Arsenic and Old Lace” as Teddy, the eccentric kook who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt.
He’s been having a blast with the role.
“Beyond the laugh lines, when people are at home or at work in the weeks following, they may think of the ways that odd people, the peculiar, are not bad folks,” Shelton said. “Teddy Brewster is better than harmless. His delusions about being Theodore Roosevelt help him cope creatively with a confusing, and sometimes threatening world. Teddy, and the other characters in Arsenic, are Dee-lightful!”
A retired social worker who lives in Owosso, Shelton studied theater at Michigan State University and has been acting and directing in the area since the 1960s.
Some favorite roles include King “Big River” and Daniel Webster in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” with the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing and Matthew Harrison Brady in “Inherit the Wind” at the Lebowsky Center in Owosso.
Even though this is first role with CTH, he said the group already feels like home.
“CTH demonstrates a high level of organization and clear communications,” he said. “They are very welcoming to a newcomer like me. There are some very talented performers involved here. I have been given lots of opportunity to step out and explore my craft.”
“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a black comedy that’s the tale of two spinster aunts who have taken to poisoning lonely old men with elderberry wine laced with arsenic. When their nephew, Mortimer Brewster, finds out, he’s tasked with trying to stop them, while at the same time dealing with his crazy family.
“Arsenic and Old Lace is a fast-moving, cleverly written comedy,” Shelton said. “It’s full of snappy one-liners, opening and closing doors, boogey men and funny men. It’s full of archaic references and archetypes from the 1940s. As a fan of black and white movies, it suits me just fine.”
And Shelton can’t wait for opening night on Friday.
“When folks to see the show, they can expect they’ll have to concentrate to keep up,” he said. “Things unfold quickly enough that they’ll have to laugh now and think later.”
The Community Theatre of Howell is presenting “Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, 1400 W. Grand River Ave., Howell. Shows are Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-3, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday each weekend.
Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for students and seniors, available at Finding Roots in Howell, Maria’s School of Dance in Fowlerville, Big Acre in Brighton, and Ed Bock Feed and Seed in Pinckney. Tickets are also available by calling 517-545-1290, or online at cththeatre.org. You can buy tickets by clicking here.