Murderers Teach Kerrville Students about Theater

Playhouse 2000’s current comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace,” goes into its second week this Friday and as always, education is key to the success of both the show and the company producing it.

Much mention has been made lately of the theatre’s 1998 mission statement that reads “…to provide education to people of all ages in all aspects of the performing arts more specifically for youths…” “Arsenic and Old Lace” perfectly represents this mission in many ways.

Firstly, the two leads Sally Ritch (Aunt Abby Brewster) and Ann Reynolds (Aunt Martha Brewster) are both retired public school teachers.

Ms. Ritch taught theatre at Tivy High School for many years. Once again “Arsenic…” unites her with one of her former students, Playhouse Director Heather Cunningham. Cunningham studied theatre under Ritch for four years at Tivy as well as at the Point Theatre where both were extremely active. Cunningham says working with Ritch is “very comfortable. It should be intimidating, but working with the person who taught you means you understand each other’s styles and techniques.” The two have worked together on many Playhouse projects in various capacities.

Ms. Reynolds taught elementary school in Kerrville and now heads up the YES center, an afterschool mentoring program at the Presbyterian Church. She too has been working with the Playhouse team longer than the company has been around. Reynolds last actual Playhouse role was in “On Golden Pond” that performed in the company’s interim theatre prior to the opening of the Cailloux Center. “It’s wonderful to have her back.” says Cunningham “I saw her chemistry with Sally during auditions. It was palpable. Together on stage, they are electric.”

Adding to the educational aspect of “Arsenic…” is the presence of several Schreiner students. Kirk Logan and Zach Salcich play dueling brothers, one good, one very evil. Zach Tysor plays Officer O’Hara, a bumbling cop with ambitions of being a playwright. All three performers are Schreiner students who are extremely active in choir and theatre. Playhouse has become very active in expanding the experience of Schreiner students by showcasing their talent on stage.

Guadalupe Stage Quartet co-founder Tony Gallucci plays Lieutenant Rooney. Gallucci’s involvement in the show is quite literally a barter trade between Playhouse and the GST. Heather Cunningham required Gallucci to be in the show in exchange for her husband, Playhouse Artistic Director Jeff Cunningham. Jeff will be performing in the next GSQ show “Never the Sinner,” which will be the first GSQ show performed at the Cailloux. “Never the Sinner,” opens in March. The Guadalupe Stage Quartet itself is an educationally focused group with all of its profit going straight to the Roy Burney Memorial Scholarship fund. Also, Gallucci works as a year round Playhouse Academy volunteer faculty member.

The Academy makes up a majority of the “Arsenic…” crew. Academy Delta Class students Emily Peters, Shirley Dixon, and Taylor Sparkman are running the show from the control booth. “These young ladies’ average age is about 13 and they are doing professional level production work,” beams Jeff Cunningham. “We are thrilled to be entertaining our community while exposing so many different people to new and fun educational experiences.”

“Arsenic and Old Lace,” runs for two more weeks at the Cailloux. Tickets to this show, as well as Season Tickets and other Cailloux events are available at the Box Office (830)896-9393 ext 223 or online at Patrons are advised to note the new Playhouse performance schedule.

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