Widow’s Row shares a theme with Arsenic and Old Lace
Who wants to go to a party on a street of infamous widows?
Like Arsenic and Old Lace, Samm-Art Williams’ comedic play The Dance on Widow’s Row draws humor from hapless men entering a possibly fatal den of women.
Except that Williams’ quartet of ladies are less old lace and more new attitude. These women may wear hats, but there are no mourning veils in sight.
Friends for years, the widows show different sides of themselves when trying to impress and compete for eligible bachelors.
Actress Telisha Diaz is Annie Talbot, a widow who has buried four husbands.
“Annie puts up a façade of being a gentle, delicate, church-going person, but she has layers and surfaces,” Diaz said. “People might see in her a lot of people they know. She also provides some comic relief.”
Annie’s friend Magnolia Ellis, played by Oonarissa Brown-Bernard, is the driving force behind the party.
“She’s trying to make it like a dance, to set people up,” Brown-Bernard said. “She wants to change the reputation of the street — that they kill their husbands and live off the life insurance.”
But the widows’ bad rap thwarts their ability to attract bachelors; only three of the four invited men decide to attend.
Naturally, four women vying for the affections of three men is a recipe for disaster — and humor.
Actor Calvin Brasley plays Deacon Hudson.
“The Deacon loves a challenge and he is flattered that they invited him. They are the top socialites, and he wants the cream of the crop,” Brasley said.
Far from a retiring church man, Hudson may not be as young as he once was, but he is “not a dead old man,” Brasley said. “He is a deacon, and he will be whooping a little bit.”
Best-known for producing the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air , Williams has also written a number of other works for television and the stage. His 1979 play Home was nominated for a Tony Award.
Upstage director Ava Brewster-Turner said that she was excited to be putting on one of Williams’ plays. “I read a review of a performance of it in New York and I knew I wanted to do it,” she said.
Besides being hilarious, the comedic farce packs some surprises, Brewster-Turner said. “There are a lot of twists and turns. This is a fun, family show.”
- CAST: Oonarissa Brown-Bernard, Magnolia Ellis; Telisha Diaz, Annie Talbot; Krystal Blatcher, Simone Jackson; Brittany Tanner, Lois Miller; Calvin Brasley, Deacon Hudson; William Farris Jr., Randolph Spears; Eric Prestley, Newly Benson.
- DIRECTOR: Ava Brewster-Turner.