Wildcats dip their paws into community theater

Three Linfield theater arts majors are set to act in a play at McMinnville Gallery Theater.

Seniors Steven Stewart and Matt Sunderland and sophomore Chris Forrer were cast in “Arsenic and Old Lace” by playwright Joseph Kesselring, which opens on April 1.

The play also features Meridith Symons, administrative assistant for Academic Affairs, and is directed by Paula Terry, Acquisitions, Cataloging and Administrative Support Coordinator at Nicholson Library.

The play’s plot centers around two sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster, who appear to rent out their spare room to kindly older gentlemen when in reality they are plotting to kill the men.

Sunderland said he was cast in a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” during his senior year of high school.

“Once I heard that she [Terry] was directing, I was very excited, and I wanted to audition because I love the play.”

Sunderland was cast as Mortimer Brewster in high school, but this time he will portray Dr. Herbert Einstein.

“He [Einstein] is a homicidal maniac and a touch insane,” he said.

Forrer will play the role of Mortimer, a theater critic working for a newspaper in Brooklyn, the play’s setting.

Rehearsal dates for the Linfield theater’s next production, “Execution of Justice,” directed by associate professor of theatre arts Janet Gupton, coincide with the community theater’s rehearsal dates. Forrer, Stewart and Sunderland are each cast in “Execution of Justice,” as well.

“The primary concern was ‘Execution of Justice.’ It’s a huge production with a predominantly male cast, and it needs all hands on deck,” Sunderland said. “Unfortunately, to have three guys go audition for a play elsewhere and possibly, as such, not be able to do “Execution of Justice” really kind of threw things into question.”

The Department of Theatre Arts and the students have been able to coalesce as far as scheduling goes, he said.

“They’ve been very willing to work with us and help our show succeed, and we’ve been willing to do late-night rehearsals with Janet to do what we can for her show for these weeks,” Sunderland said. “All three of us love to do it. It adds motivation and fuel to the fire to really concentrate on both roles.”

The dual-role situation doesn’t cause turbulence, but there is one aspect of their moonlighting that has required some extra effort, he said.

“Something that Steven and I both had to struggle with is learning accents. Dr. Einstein is from Germany, so I had to learn a German accent and Officer Brophy is from Brooklyn, so he had to master a Brooklyn accent,” Sunderland said. “That was a good challenge for both of us, I think. It’s been fun to have that extra thing to work on.”

“Arsenic and Old Lace” runs through April 16 at the Gallery Theater at 210 Ford Street in McMinnville. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Call the Gallery Theater for tickets. Ticket pricing is as follows: general admission, $14, student and senior citizen tickets, $12.

Students can bring their IDs to the Gallery Theater half an hour before the curtain. When the theater has unsold tickets, students can purchase tickets half-off.

The Gallery Theater box office is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call the Gallery Theater at 503-472-2227 or visit www.gallerytheater.org for additional information.

Septembre Russell/Copy chief
Septembre Russell can be reached at [email protected]