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Blinn College-Brenham Theatre unveils a season of dark tales

This year’s productions explore the dark side of popular plays

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The Blinn College-Brenham Campus Theatre Arts Program will showcase a five-performance 2017-18 season featuring plays that combine comedy with dark elements.

“Our theme this year is ‘Lights Out: A Season of Dark Tales,’ and we are using the term ‘dark’ both figuratively and literally,” said Brad Nies, Theatre Director. “The tech is extensive in these shows, so a lot of students will be working both on and off stage.”

The season will open with Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace,” a dark comedy featuring characters played by Blinn faculty, returning Blinn students, and members of the Brenham community. Set in Atlanta, drama critic Mortimer Brewster must deal with his two Victorian aunts who murder lonely old men, his brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and a murderous brother who, in an attempt to conceal his identity, has had plastic surgery performed by his alcoholic accomplice.

The cast includes Blinn College faculty, Nies, Jennifer Patrick, and Kevin Patrick; returning Blinn College students Kalya Adair, Ilana Ariel, Isaiah Edwards, Joanna Guerrero, Cristian Santiago, Cassin Villa-Lobos, and Caleb Wyrick; and members of the Brenham community Jonathan Acosta, Daniel Bircher, Kara Freeman, Steve Haley, Cristian Mejia, Andrew Mueller, Rylie Patrick, and Dylan Strickland.

“Arsenic and Old Lace” will open at 7 p.m. Sept. 7-9 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center.

The second play of the season, “Zombie Prom” by Dana Rowe and John Dempsey, is a spoof of 1950s horror movies. Pretty senior Toffee has fallen for the class bad boy, Jonny, but family pressure has forced her to end the romance. After Jonny charges off on his motorcycle into a nuclear waste dump, he returns glowing and determined to take Toffee to the prom. No one at the school can understand their love, but history comes to the rescue while a tuneful selection of original music keeps the action rockin’ and rollin’ across the stage. The curtain will rise at 7 p.m. Oct. 12-14 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, in the O’Donnell Center.

In November, the Theatre Arts Program will perform Michele L. Vacca’s “Hansel and Gretel.”

“It’s a children’s show with a lot of dark elements and scary witches,” Nies said. “This version we are doing isn’t terribly scary, but features three witches.”

After being left to die in the woods, children Hansel and Gretel discover a large cottage built of gingerbread, cakes, and delicious candies. The tired and hungry children begin to eat the candy house, but are unaware that it is owned by a bloodthirsty and horrible witch.

“Hansel and Gretel” will open at 7 p.m. Nov. 16-18 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19, in the O’Donnell Center.

In February, Blinn will present “Black Comedy” by Peter Shaffer.

Brindsley, a sculptor, and his fiancée, Carol, have borrowed expensive furniture from a neighbor without permission in order to impress a millionaire art collector coming to view the young artist’s work. When a blown fuse plunges the building into darkness, Carol’s militant father arrives, the neighbor returns early, and Brindsley’s ex-girlfriend shows up unexpectedly.

“It’s a British farce that takes place during a blackout and is really funny,” Nies said.  “The gimmick is that when the lights are on and the audience sees the characters, that’s when the characters can’t see, and when the lights are off and the audience can’t see the characters, then the characters can see.”

The show opens at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22-24 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, in the O’Donnell Center.

The final performance of the season will be the annual Theatre Arts Student Showcase, in which students present the acting and technical skills that they have acquired throughout the course of the year. This performance will take place at 7 p.m. April 5-6 in the O’Donnell Center’s MRW Studio Theater.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, children, and senior citizens. Students, Blinn faculty and staff receive free tickets with the code “staffcomp.”

To purchase tickets, visit www.blinn.edu/boxoffice or call 979-830-4024.

In addition to the five performances, Blinn College Chapters of Delta Psi Omega and the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology will present Slaphappy at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, and Thursday, Feb. 15, in the O’Donnell Center. The improvisation troupe is a cross between Seinfeld, Comedy Sportz Houston and William Shakespeare, and will dazzle the audience with its engaging and grounded scene work. Slaphappy has a style that’s always challenging and never stale.