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Queens Chronicle

New theater group kicks off in Woodhaven

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Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:00 am

Undaunted by the plethora of community theater groups vying for audiences in Queens, a new band of actors in Woodhaven is adding its name to the hat.

The First String Players, whose members hail from all over the southern parts of the borough, will be performing “Arsenic and Old Lace,” a 1939 comedy about a drama critic from Brooklyn whose family includes aunts that poison old men, a sibling who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and a murderous brother who tries to conceal his identity with plastic surgery.

Stef Morisi, one of First String’s founding members, says the group plans to produce a variety of genres, including comedies, mysteries and dramas. The first year, just one show is on the docket, but the group hopes to produce two or three each year in the future.

The idea to start a theater group came about because a group of friends, all of whom participated in a summer musical theater program in Richmond Hill, wanted to keep the dramatic juices flowing.

“We were all driving in a car, and we said, ‘We need to do this,’” Morisi said.

So they picked a play, selected 14 actors and forged ahead with rehearsals.

Many of the cast members have performed in other community theater productions, but Morisi said starting a new company sounded like an attractive alternative to continuing with roles in the traditional circuits, especially since the members were friends from the start.

“We wanted to be together,” she said. “We didn’t want to live by their rules.”

The members of First String range in age from 16 to 59, with most on the younger end (Morisi herself is 21 and is just finishing up college at St. Francis). As a result, the expectation is that the audience will be less gray-haired than is often the case with community theater productions in Queens.

The group’s initial funding is all coming out of members’ pockets, but Morisi said they’re not worried: St. Luke’s Church in Woodhaven is offering them a stage in exchange for half the proceeds from ticket sales, and sets and costumes are to be done on a shoestring budget.

‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

When: Jan. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m.,

Jan. 10 at 3 p.m.

Where: St. Luke’s Church, 87-34 85th St., Woodhaven


Ticket price: $10

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