Tiger theatre takes us to the 40s

San Jacinto High held rendition of “Arsenic and Old Lace” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Photos by Corey Evan
The cast and crew gather in the Brewster living room, having evaded the arsenic kiss of death.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

For anybody who has thought their family was a little cuckoo, it could be worse: Your family could include a pair of murderers with good intentions, and possibly a sibling who thinks he’s Theodore Roosevelt or another who’s had way too much plastic surgery because he’s a con-artist. Such characters from the Joseph Kesselring play “Arsenic and Old Lace” came to life on stage during the weekend of Thursday, Friday and Saturday Oct. 25 – 27, as portrayed by the San Jacinto High School Theatre Department.

Mortimer Brewster, played by Cesar Ramirez, saves an elderly man from his aunts.

Responsible for bringing this 40s era classic to life was returning SJHS Theatre Director Sharon Zielasko. She’s done this play so many times she could do it in her sleep: “I was in it in high school, I was Martha; I did it again in college, and then (it was) the first play I directed…”
Zielasko mentioned that it was the first play she put on as Theatre Director when she started her career in Escondido at San Pasqual High School, and again when she moved her office to Murrieta Valley High School, and now has directed it at SJHS!
Zielasko, who initially retired from SJHS in 2016, returned to put on “Arsenic and Old Lace” when her replacement had to do a disappearing act. “It’s a whole lot more complicated to come out of retirement than it was to go in; Just coming back to a new group of kids, to changes in procedures at the high school itself… But they did ask me what I would need.”
Zielasko would need quite a bit to make this happen, to say the least. But for her and the entire theatre department, Arsenic and Old Lace proved to be a blast to put on.

Just keeping the peace, Mr. President!

Most of the cast had never heard of the play before:
Ceniya Gholar, who played Abby Brewster, was surprised at what her character was capable of: “I love my character and I kind of feel like she (reflects) me when I become old. I was kind of shocked that old ladies were killing people!”
Sofia Espinoza played Martha Brewster and found this play to be something of a thrill: “The beginning of act three, where I get to yell at the top of my lungs!” She’s been waiting 17 years to do that.
Ethan Scillion, our Teddy Roosevelt think-alike, just had a blast with this role. “You get into the mindset that you aren’t really thinking that you’re that person; You become that person.”
Angelo Sansonetti, who played the evil Jonathan Brewster, loves embracing his inner-villain. “Obviously, pushing people seems to be the funnest part of drama! They don’t like that I’m honest with them,” he said in a joking manner.
But one had already had a taste, so to speak:
– Charles Davis, who plays would-be victim Mr. Gibbs, says he first heard of the play in ninth grade: “It was before Ms. Z left, when she was going to retire… I would talk to some of the actors beforehand, before I actually joined my sophomore year.”
Zielasko said she is thankful for the entire San Jacinto Unified leadership, her theatre students, this weekend’s audience, and her husband John, for all they did to light up the Brewster home, i.e. the SJHS Performing Arts Center.
Keep up with the Theatre Department’s upcoming lineup of jolly good shows at sjhs.sanjacinto.k12.ca.us

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