What recently happened
The arts are a big thing here at Marquette. This fall, the theater department is putting on the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace, a story about two “charming and innocent” ladies, Abby and Martha Brewster and their three nephews; two of which are a little odd, and one who has just gotten engaged to the neighbor’s daughter.
For the past two months, the cast and crew have been practicing diligently every night to make this play a success. One seasoned member of the cast, Cece Dickson, a senior at Marquette, plays the lead role, Abby Brewster.
She said, “I would say it is the fact that I am doing what I love most. The cast and crew of Arsenic are out of this world, and I am so happy to be working with them every night at rehearsal.”
The cast and crew also come on Saturday mornings for “work call” where they all help to put the set together by doing various tasks like painting and creating necessary props. Someone who knows all about this is the stage manager himself, Kyle McGrew. As the stage manager, McGrew helps to direct the scenes and techies on what they need to do, like help with scene changes and manage the props. This makes it easier for the actors, like Quinn Larkin. Larkin plays Martha Brewster, and said that, “Everyone in theatre is so friendly and accepting, it’s like a big family.”
Sam Salyer is a member of that big theatre family. Salyer has been in four plays and musicals during her time at Marquette. His favorite musical is The Sound of Music.
Salyer said, “ I like being part of a group and I like acting because you get to put yourself in situations you would otherwise not be in. I like putting myself in other people’s shoes.”
In Arsenic and Old Lace, Salyer plays the role of Teddy Brewster, “a middle-aged man who lives with his two aunts- he thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt.”
Salyer is also a talented artist, and putting his talents to use, has helped paint the set. The hardest part of being in the plays is memorizing the lines.
According to Salyer, “You have to practice a lot if you really want to get good.”
Arts and Theatre are a huge part of Salyers life.
“I like the arts because they have a unique history, and they possess the power to make something amazing. You can create something really beautiful or something not very good, it’s up to you. How good do you want to make the creation at hand?" said Salyer.
Salyer's advice is to embrace being laughed at and making mistakes because they help you learn not to take yourself so seriously.
The brain behind these many productions at Marquette is Mrs. Amy Crane, who has taught for 19 years at Marquette.
Crane’s teaching philosophy is that as long as she is loving it and her students are still learning, she’ll stick with it.
She teaches theatre arts, technical theatre, speech and debate, ACP Public Speaking, and chorus.
"I love passing on knowledge and opportunities to students that I was given when I was in school,” Explained Crane.
Her favorite part of teaching is working with the students and seeing their creativity come to bear.
“We have so many talented and creative students at Marquette, and they never cease to amaze me,” said Crane.
Mrs. Crane herself has been a part of over 40 productions since her high school years. One of her favorite musicals to put on was The Fantasticks because it was her first musical and also where she met her husband.
She fondly remembers some of those funny moments that happen during the shows, and 12 years ago, when the play was also Arsenic and Old Lace, some of the cast members kept opening a door on the set the wrong way, which eventually led to it getting ripped off its hinges during the show. The cast propped the door up every time they needed to shut it, and of course, couldn’t stop laughing each time. These experiences have made Mrs. Crane who she is today.
What’s coming up
Mrs. Crane said, “There’s nothing better than watching a student have that ‘ah-ha’ moment or reacting to their first laugh from an audience, or even better, a standing ovation.”
The audience is important for a play to be successful. The stellar cast and crew of “Arsenic and Old Lace” will be performing on November 10 and 11 at 7pm and November 12 at 2pm in the Marquette Auditorium Rudy Hart Theatre. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
To any students interested in future productions at Marquette, Jalon’Tae Blakely, a senior at Marquette who is playing the role of Mr. Witherspoon, the head of Happy Dale, an insane asylum, has some advice.
Blakely says, “Go for it! The more you get involved in different plays and musicals at Marquette, the more you’ll actually enjoy your high school experience. I promise you won’t regret it.”
Ben Pizarek, the male lead role of Mortimer Brewster, also has some advice, “For anyone that wants to be in a production in the future, if you’re on the edge even a little bit about auditioning or not, audition! Everyone in the music department is super friendly and accepting.”
Mrs. Crane has already chosen the spring musical, and dediced on Seussical, but she does have a method to choosing.
Crane said, “First I start with how big it should be based on how many students I feel will be returning, then I think about what different sort of talents they all have and how we could best showcase them, then I simply think about what sort of things I WANT to do next!”
So come and watch Arsenic and Old Lace; The cast and crew hope to see everyone there!