Arsenic and Old Lace

by Michael Cramer


Download Video: Closed Format: MP4 Open Format: OGG / WebM

WELCOME TO ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (or "The Spirit of Brooklyn"). 

Last year I produced a successful production of Hamlet, and financed it through Hatchfund. Along the way, Hanna Edwards joined as co-producer, and Craig Hutchison came on board as director. Afterward, we were casting around for something else to do, and Hanna had the idea of doing something tangential to Hamlet (we even thought of founding something called "The Hamlet Tangential Theatre Company"). One thing we discussed was doing a 20th Century American comedy, since it was about as far away from Renaissance tragedy as we can get. The one that got people the most excited was Arsenic and Old Lace. What does Arsenic and Old Lace have to do with Hamlet? Well, they are both about poison, of course.... 

We will be producing Arsenic and Old Lace this July 9, 10, 11, and 12 in the Studio Theatre at the John DeSotelle Acting Studio in the Times Square Arts Center. The show is already cast. This will be a more expensive show than Hamlet was, because we have to cover not only the theatre rental and insurance, but also costumes and performance rights. Our total budget is $9,000. So far, everyone we've talked to has said "I love that play!" We are hope that you are just as excited, and will be willing to help us launch this project. It's a great opportunity for us to showcase the talents of several enthusiastic actors, both young and old, tolling away in the New York Theatre scene. Although they are all non-union, our actors will each be paid a stipend (the same amount that we are paying ourselves). Your contribution will help all of us produce great theatre here in New York, showcase our talents, and gain valuable experience. That's why we are asking you to become a supporter of the arts and to help fund Arsenic and Old Lace. We've got a lot of great perks worked out for you, too! 

Arsenic and Old Lace was written by Joseph Kesserling and opened on Broadway on January 10, 1941 and ran for 1,444 performances in two different theatres. It is considered one of the most successful American comedies of all time. The New York Times said “At some time there may have been a funnier murder charade than 'Arsenic and Old Lace,' which was acted at the Fulton last night. But the supposition is purely academic. For Joseph Kesserling has written one so funny that none of us  will ever forget it.” The play was originally perceived as a curiosity, marking the Broadway Debut of Boris Karloff as a man who’s plastic surgeon has accidentally turned him into Boris Karloff (the day the play opened, the Times erroneously reported that Karloff would be playing himself). Some people did not appreciate the joke, and wondered if the director had actually understood the play. In fact, Kesserling originally wrote it as a serious drama about murder, but the producers--thankfully--convinced him that it was actually a comedy. It was revived once on Broadway, in 1986, with Tony Roberts, Abe Vigoda, Polly Holiday, and Jean Stapleton. Popular with both professional and amateur theatres, it has been in continuous production ever since. The play was made into a film directed by Frank Capra, released in 1944.  Reportedly, the role of Mortimer was offered to Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Ronald Reagan before Cary Grant let it be known that he wanted to play it. Karloff could not be in the movie because he was still appearing in the play when it was filmed. In 2000, The American Film Institute listed Arsenic and Old Lace at number 30 on their list of the funniest American Films. 

Our budget is as follows: 

Space Rental: $2,200.00

Insurance: $600.00

Rights: $400.00

Scripts: $150.00

Tech: $2,000.00

Marketing and Development: $1,800.00

Talent (including director and crew): $1,000.00

Contingency: $850.00

Total: $9,000.00 

As you can see, theatre isn't cheap! Our minimum goal--what we need to get funded--is $5,000. Please help us out. 

    • May 21, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      We have a pledge coming in that will will put us $50 shy of $4,000. Who will put us over?

    • May 16, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      We are raffling off a $25 gift card to Fireman Hospitality Restaurants. These include Brooklyn Diner and Cafe Fiorello in Manhattan and Bond 45 and Fiorella Pizzeria at National Harbor on the Potomac, near DC. All donations made between now and midnight Sunday are entered.

    • May 14, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      THROUGH MIDNIGHT SATURDAY the Associate Producer's Dinner Experience perk s on sale for $350. Tickets, a credit, and dinner at Morso NYC!

    • May 13, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      Here are the characters that are still available to be sponsored for a $200 donation. Elaine, Teddy, Dr. Einstein, Lt. Rooney, Officer O'Hara, Officer Klein, Officer Brophy, Mr. Witherspoon, and Mr. Gibbs.

    • May 10, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      Now through midnight Tuesday, 5/12, get 20% off the murder victim perks! That's $80 to be listed as one of Aunts Martha and Abbey's victims, and $60 to be listed as one of Jonathan's victims. Help us fill out our program!

    • April 29, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      Be sure to visit our FaceBook page:

    • April 25, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      We are off to a great start!! Thanks Warren Shaw, Matt Lecin, Ruth Cramer, Drew Osbourne, Robert Arnold, Lauren Burnham, and Anton Obeid for supporting our show!

    • April 25, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      It's going great! Thanks Warren Shaw for joining our team and supporting independent theatre!!

    • April 23, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      Thanks Matt Lecin for sponsoring Jonathan!

    • April 23, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      Thanks Anton Obeid, an esteemed member of our company, for a $75 donation!

    • April 22, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      Thank you Robert Arnold, our newest ambassador!

    • April 16, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      If you purchase the $50, $75, $100, or $200 perks (Ambassador, Jonathan's or Abbey and Martha's murder victims, or sponsoring a character) please message us via Hatchfund to let us know which country/victim/character you choose.

    • April 16, 2015 Michael Cramer Artist

      WELL! Our campaign is off to a good start. We have raised the $1,250 we need to be eligible for the $225 in matching funds, and we did it in only two days! Thanks Drew, Ruth, and Lauren for not only getting us started but propelling us to our first benchmark quickly! PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!