METAIRIE, La (press release) – Jefferson Performing Arts Society brings its third production of the new year to the Jefferson Performing Arts Center with the timeless 1940s dark comedy Arsenic and Old Lace from Feb. 26-March 7, 2021.

The popular play by Joseph Kesselring was originally staged on Broadway before becoming the classic film directed by Frank Capra, starring Cary Grant as drama critic Mortimer Brewster. This fast-paced farce features homicidal maniacs that all hail from the same family, including a serial killer brother on the lam and two sweet aunts who have been poisoning their boardinghouse residents for years. Then there’s the uncle who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt!

Kris Shaw (Director) most recently directed the hit comedy Shear Madness with JPAS and was most recently seen on the JPAC stage as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady and as The Man in the Yellow Suit in Tuck Everlasting. He also worked with JPAS as director of The Sound of Music, Sister Act, Mary Poppins, Tuck Everlasting, and Annie, JR.

The roles of Aunts Abby and Martha Brewster are played by local leading ladies Helen Blanke and Janet Shea, with Leon Contavesprie playing Mortimer Brewster. Helen Blanke has performed on local stages since her teens and is making her fourth appearance at JPAS. Some of her most memorable shows have been: Blithe Spirit (Big Easy Award), Annie Get Your Gun, Harvey, Bye-Bye Birdie, The Golden Age, Music Man, and The Mousetrap. Janet Shea first appeared on New Orleans stages in 1955 at Le Petit Theatre as a singing bluebird in The Birds. Sixty-five years and over 200 performances later, she appears in Arsenic and Old Lace after recently directing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for JPAS. This is Leon Contavesprie’s second production with JPAS, the first being The Amorous Ambassador at Theatre Wego. His regional and local credits include: Act of God, November, The Pillowman, Broadway Bound, Colossal, The Glass Menagerie, Mame, and The Dinner Party.

Supporting roles include Louis Dudoussat (Teddy Brewster), Jonathan Damaré (Officer O’Hara), Bryce Slocumb (Jonathan Brewster), Earl Scioneaux (Dr. Einstein), and Alison Logan (Elaine Harper), featuring Peter Gabb, Blake Buchert, Ronnie Blanchard, Eric Lincoln, and Paul Bello.
Performances at Jefferson Performing Arts Center are held with strict Covid safety rules in place, including masks worn by all actors, staff, volunteers, crew, and patrons; socially distanced seating; and no concessions sold to reduce contact. Temperatures are taken at the door, and hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the theater lobbies.

“We continue to welcome theatergoers to this gorgeous, spacious setting which allows us to stay distantly safe while providing quality shows,” said Jefferson Performing Arts Society executive director Timothy Todd Simmons. “For those who feel comfortable venturing out, we can guarantee a comfortable experience, and we appreciate all who continue to support us in helping to keep the curtain raised!”

Tickets are available by visiting or calling 504-885-2000. Parking is free at Jefferson Performing Arts Center at 6400 Airline Highway, Metairie. Arsenic and Old Lace is the second to last show of the 2020/2021 season, which culminates with A Comedy of Tenors by Ken Ludwig, directed by Anthony Laciura, from April 9-18, 2021.