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The Newberg High School theater department will stage the classic play beginning Thursday

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Rehearsals are in full swing at Newberg High School for the Thursday debut of 'Arsenic and Old Lace,' a traditional dramatic classic.

Punchy one-liners, light-hearted intrigue and good triumphing over evil will all be features of the upcoming play performed by the Newberg High School theater troupe.

A show performed time and again at high schools for decades, "Arsenic and Old Lace" will grace the stage at NHS this week and next.

NHS theater director Mike McConaughey described the play as a "classic, age-old high school production" with plenty of fun characters and subject matter that entertains audiences young and old.

"It's a classic sitcom taking place on stage," he said. "Mistaken identities, characters misrepresenting themselves, assumptions being made – all the classic sitcom pieces. By the end of it, all is revealed and the good guys come out on top while the bad guys get thwarted."

The play, originally written by Joseph Kesselring, premiered on Broadway in 1941.It follows Mortimer Brewster and his eccentric, homicidal, maniacal family through various instances of the absurd. It is regarded as one of the original dark comedies in modern theater.

"Arsenic and Old Lace" has been adapted many times over on the stage, in the movies and on television. It has become a staple of the high school theater experience, and McConaughey said everyone he's spoken to in the theater community about the play has some tangential or direct connection to it.

Either someone's kids or grandkids played a part in it, or they did themselves. For the NHS troupe, it will provide an important bit of experience and a rite of passage of sorts.

"We have a great mixture this year of some experienced upperclassmen with newcomers," McConaughey said. "This cast has quite a few folks who will be on stage with us for the first time. It's exciting to get those groups together and see these actors on stage for the first time."

This is the third time under McConaughey's watch that this play has been performed at NHS.

He previously directed it at C.S. Lewis Academy as well and designed the play for his master's degree project while he was in college.

George Fox University student Lisa Leyendekker is helping direct this iteration of the play for her master's degree, which is in teaching.

The play runs Thursday through Saturday and Feb. 13-15 at NHS, with a start time of 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.

"Besides it being a great opportunity for our new actors and those new to our stage, it's just good fun," McConaughey said. "It's good comedy, relaxing and easy for an audience to experience. You can just laugh and enjoy the characters."

School briefs

Park district offering chess program

Young students interested in learning how to play and win at the game of chess can participate in a new program offered by the Chehalem Park & Recreation District.

The "Chess Wizards" program put on by CPRD will be held at the after-school "CARE" program where students can have a snack and then head off to play chess at 3:40 p.m.

The program costs $200 for an eight-week session and more information can be found at cprdnewberg.org or by calling 503-537-2909.

Grad Night fundraiser coming up at NHS

The Newberg High School class of 2020 is raising money for its annual grad night, and local residents can help out their cause by scarfing a breakfast treat.

A pancake breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on Feb. 9 at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 2315 N Main Street in Newberg. Pancakes, eggs, juice and coffee will be on tap and the cost is $5 per person.

Additional donations beyond the cost of entry will be gladly accepted.

For more information, contact Angie LaPointe at 503-805-8505 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Career support event set for girls on March 7

The "Dream It, Be It" program for girls is coming to Newberg this spring.

According to a flyer from the program, it "helps girls grow up to be strong, successful, happy adults" through access to professional role models and career education – among other resources.

The event for girls in the Chehalem Valley is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 7 at the PCC Newberg Campus, rooms 115 and 116. Continental breakfast and lunch is provided at the event.

For more information or to register, contact Sally Rice at 650-793-1174 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Additional information is available at the program's website, sicv.org.


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