A scene from last year’s farce “See How They Run.”

Back Alley Productions invites you to its first 2020 auditions as the production company brings the famous Frank Capra comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace” to life on stage.

Auditions will be held at the Mars Theatre on Monday, Jan. 13, and Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day. Performances are Feb. 21 to March 1, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

The theatre is located at 117 N. Chattanooga St., LaFayette. More information can be found at The production is being directed by Krystale Dawson.

“Arsenic and Old Lace” is a farcical black comedy revolving around the Brewster family, descended from the Mayflower settlers but now composed of maniacs, most of them homicidal. The hero, Mortimer Brewster, is a drama critic who must deal with his crazy, murderous family and local police in Brooklyn, N.Y., as he debates whether to go through with his recent promise to marry the woman he loves, Elaine Harper, who lives next door and is the daughter of the local minister.

His family includes two spinster aunts who have taken to murdering lonely old men by poisoning them with a glass of home-made elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine and “just a pinch” of cyanide; a brother who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt and digs locks for the Panama Canal in the cellar of the Brewster home (which then serve as graves for the aunts’ victims; he thinks that they died of yellow fever); and a murderous brother who has received plastic surgery performed by an alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein (a character based on real-life gangland surgeon Joseph Moran) to conceal his identity, and now looks like horror-film actor Boris Karloff (a self-referential joke, as the part was originally played on Broadway by Karloff).


Martha Brewster

Teddy Brewster

The Rev. Dr. Harper

Elaine Harper

Officer Klein

Mr. Gibbs

Abby Brewster

Mortimer Brewster

Jonathan Brewster

Mr. Witherspoon

Officer Brophy

Officer O’Hara

Dr. Einstein

Lieutenant Rooney

Tips on nailing the audition

There’s a lot you can do to prep for an audition, but the keys are confidence and studying your character. Here’s a few tips on how you can stand out:

Think about the character you’re auditioning for: What is their background, their personality, their motivation and goals? Ask questions about who they are and how you can demonstrate these qualities in body language, inflection, and performance.

Dress nice, but comfortably: First impressions are important but make sure you aren’t restricted.

Study the material in a quiet place, and really take the time to understand the material.

Study the emotional range of the scene, and be prepared to show diversity. Don’t oversimplify emotions. You can blend angry and happy, sad and optimistic. There’s a lot of choices to make. Speaking of which...

Make clear choices: Know what you want to do and do it. If you’re confused about what your character is doing it shows. The people who audition with a clear understanding of who they are and what they want tend to stand out.

Be confident: We all get nervous before an audition, but Back Alley will do our best to make you comfortable during the audition process. Confidence is key to landing the role you want. We hope you’ll be excited, not anxious, and your passion for theatre will make you break away from the crowd.

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