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South Washington County's Locally Grown Theatre stages 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

Todd Caughey has never been interested in theater or being in a play but he's having fun these days portraying Teddy Brewster, who believes he's really Teddy Roosevelt.

In the play, "Arsenic and Old Lace," Teddy's two elderly sisters, Martha and Abby, are poisoning men for humanitarian reasons. Chaos ensues.

Caughey is typical of the people who've never acted in front of an audience. After accepting the invitation to be in a play, they find they enjoy being someone else as Caughey does when he dons a pith helmet and says,"charge" as he exits the stage.

He's on stage these days because his daughter-in-law, Stephanie Caughey, and her husband, Adam, are in the play. Stephanie, who plays Elaine Harger, is newly married to Mortimer Brewster, nephew of the elderly sisters and Teddy and played by Tyler Gelbmann. Adam portrays one of the police officers.

They told Todd he'd be perfect impersonating the former president who charged up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.

It's how many people get involved in community theater and join those who formed Locally Grown Theatre in south Washington County more than a year ago. Those who helped get the fledgling theater group started, such as Emily Olson, who's currently directing "Arsenic and Old Lace," hope the actors and other people like Todd Caughey will want join them.

Locally Grown Theatre also hopes the audience will enjoy the play as much as they enjoyed sitting on a hillside at Zion Lutheran Church last summer watching "Robin Hood."

People like Stephanie and Adam were hooked on theater after being in "Robin Hood." Gelbmann and Dorsey Sprouls, who portrays a police officer, regularly appeared in Park High School productions.

Others involved in the production include Jeff Heutmaker, Barrie Mayer, Oby Ballinger, Rodney Paul Nevin, Peter Potyondy and Stephan Potyondy with Bill Larsen as assistant director, also in charge of lighting and sound, Peter Potyondy as technical director and Taylor Dietrich as light board operator.

For more information or to join Locally Grown Theatre for $10 a year, go to

If you go

"Arsenic and Old Lace" opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Cottage Grove Middle School. It will also be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19.

Tickets, $12 for general admission, and $10 for seniors and students, are available at the door.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600