Arsenic and Old Lace


Elizabeth Beach (Abby Brewster) 

An Island resident and member of St. Stephen’s parish since 1958, Elizabeth has never before appeared on the Parish Player’s stage. She has directed and worked behind the scenes since the inception, with Father Mark Illig, of the Parish Players thirteen years ago. 

She was responsible for the organization and longevity (25 years each) of the Catholic Theatre Guild of Indianapolis and the Island Theatre Group of Grand Island. 

Elizabeth first appeared on stage, at age 6, as one of six twinkling stars (no lines), and through the years, has played title and/or leading roles in Auntie Mame, Lion in Winter, Night Must Fall, Murder in the Nunnery, The Girls in 301, Goodbye, My Fancy and many other productions locally and in Indianapolis. 

Presentations she has directed include Plain and Fancy, Mister Roberts, South Pacific, Music Man, Teahouse of the August Moon, See How They Run, The Crucible, The Bad Seed, The Miracle Worker, The King and I, and literally scores of others in Indianapolis, for the Island theatre associations, and for the Niagara Falls Little Theatre. 

The entire  Beach family: husband Bob, children Linda, Beth, Vic and Rob, and the five grandchildren have all appeared on stage in a variety of roles and various venues throughout their lives. 

Ruth Englert (Martha Brewster) 

Ruth has been a parishioner of St. Stephen’s for 46 years. She and her late husband, Charles, were married in the old church and raised four children. They have been blessed with 13 grandchildren, all parishioners at St. Stephen’s. 

Although this is Ruth’s first time on stage, she has been active and held office in PTAs, Kenmore Mercy Guild, and the Grand Island Historical Society. She is currently president of the Altar Society. She serves on the liturgy committee and felt it was an honor and privilege to be a member of the new church building committee. 

Ruth has been an avid downhill skier for more than 50 years. She enjoys skiing and playing tennis with her grandchildren. 

Father Daniel Fiebelkorn (Mr. Gibbs)

A priest for six years, Father Dan has served as Parochial Vicar at St. Stephen for almost five years. During that time he has been in the audience for many of the Parish Player productions and also enjoyed theatre at Studio Arena, the Shaw Festival, and Shea’s. The role of Mr. Gibbs is Father’s inaugural introduction to the “other side” of the stage.

He greatly enjoys his ministry at St. Stephen and his hobbies include cycling, reading, birding and the outdoors in general. 

The youngest of three, Father Dan is a native of Homer, Alaska where his family still resides. 

David Karb (Lt. Rooney) 

David is married to a very supportive wife of 39 years and is a proud father of three children and the grandfather of seven. He has been active in the Parish Players for six or seven years. 

He is a retiree who likes golf and traveling and hamming it up in the church plays. Dave also had several roles in the Grand Island  Sesquicentennial Historic Pageant. 

Richard LaBend (Officer Brophy)

Richard began his theatrical career in high school in order to meet girls. He has spent the past quarter century trying to get out. He has “retired” three times from the Niagara Experience Players, the last time as assistant director. He has since been with SUNYAB Spotlite Productions, has done several stints with the Niagara Falls Little Theater and currently is trying to quit Kenmore United Methodist Church’s Celebration Players. 

He was successful at one thing: He met his wife in a high school production of Arsenic and Old Lace. She was Aunt Martha to his Teddy. Twenty-one years later, he married her. Rich lives with his wife and son, Patrick, in Tonawanda and works for CWM in Model City. 

Michael Lombardo (Teddy Brewster)

Having received both a JD and MBA from New York University at Buffalo Michael is an attorney practicing in the areas of estate planning, estates, real estate, and business matters. His law practice spans more than 20 years, and his office is in Buffalo. He also is in his 22nd year of teaching, as a part-time lecturer of business law in UB’s School of Management. 

An Island resident for almost 10 years, Michael is married with two daughters, both of whom are responsible for his being involved in theatrical plays. His only prior theatrical experience was several roles in the historical pageant Grand Island – A Grand Place to Live, presented by the Susquicentennial Players in October 2002. 

Michael is entering his third season as head coach for a girls’ softball team in the Grand Island Little League. Michael also enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, and traveling. His travels have been throughout many parts of the United States, including Alaska, and a number of provinces and territories in Canada, including the Yukon Territory. 

Louie Panzica (Mr. Hoskins) 

Louie is a fifth-grader at St. Stephen’s School, where he is a member of the swimming, basketball, and soccer teams. He enjoys playing the guitar when not romping around with his dog, Buddy. This is his first performance with the Parish Players. 

Rosanne Panzica (Elaine Harper) 

This is Rosanne’s inaugural stage performance. She is the mother of three children who all attend St. Stephen’s School. She volunteers much of her spare time to the school, where she served on the advisory board, was a past president of the Home School Association and the chair of the Lenten fish fry fund-raiser.

Originally from Kenmore, she has been a resident of Grand Island for 13 years.

Bob Priest (Officer O’Hara 

Bob had been happy taking his children to various theatre rehearsals and then a part was thrust upon him. Ah ha! Bob has since been in several area productions. His favorite role was Officer O’Hara in Arsenic and Old Lace at the Ghostlight Theater. 

He has been a Grand Island resident for 14 years and happily married for 27 years. He has three children and more pets than can be counted on two hands. 

Bob thanks St. Stephen’s Parish Players for giving him his start and allowing him to reprise his favorite role. 

Lauren Priest (Mr. Spenalzo) 

Lauren says she really enjoys working with the Parish Players. She has been in Cheaper by the Dozen, Alice in Wonderland, and helped behind the scenes. 

Her hobbies are acting, playing sports such as soccer, basketball, and softball. She attends Veronica Connor Middle School on Grand Island. 

Mark Priest (Officer O’Klein) 

Mark Priest has been on stage since second grade in various school, church and local productions His favorite role was Fred in Cheaper by the Dozen performed with the Parish Players. 

When not acting he maintains a very busy life with school, a newspaper route, many sports, (his soccer nickname is “The Wall”) and boating. During the summer he can be seen daily jetskiing on the Niagara River, and in the winter, snowboarding at local ski areas.

John Quackenbush (Jonathan Brewster) 

John is father of the ingenious Kimberly and husband of the multi-talented Diane Quackenbush. He is proud to be a veteran of many St. Stephen’s productions, including, See How They Run, The King and I  ( Sir Edward Ramsey,) The Music Man (Mayor Shinn), Brigadoon (Angus Beaton), Judgement – The Trial of Lucifer (Satan’s defense attorney), and Is There a Comic in the House? (Dewey, the head kidnapper). 

Outside the theater, he is a litigation attorney and professor, teaching Industrial Psychology at Niagara University. 

Reginald Schopp (The Rev. Dr. Harper) 

Reg, a life long Island resident has always been interested in the theatre. 

As a GIHS student, he was a member of the Spotlighters and played the roles of The Businessman in Everyman Today, and Dr. Chumley in Harvey.  His college career included membership in the Findlay College Players where he also appeared on stage. Reg’s most recent stage experience was as Grand Island’s first supervisor in the Grand Island Sesquicentennial Pageant. 

Reg has three children, Michael, Kim, and Betsy and three grandchildren.  Michael can be heard on WGR M-F from 3 to 6 p.m. and Kim and her family are members of St. Stephen parish. 

Islanders might also remember Reg’s mother who was a first grade teacher at Huth Road and, at age 93, is still sharp as a tack. 

Jeffrey W. Stone (Mortimer Brewster) 

Jeff and members of his family have participate in several Parish Player productions, and he has particularly enjoyed his time this winter with his fellow Arsenic cast members. 

He is married to Eileen and father to Meredith, 11; Brendan, 9; and Griffin, 6.

A lawyer, Jeff is with the Buffalo firm of Hodgson Russ. He enjoys fishing, golf, traveling, parish activities, Buffalo Bills football, Democratic politics, and vacationing with his family at Black Rock Cottage in Turkey Point, Ontario. 

Although his stage experience has been rather limited, Jeff did play to a large audience when he appeared on the television show, Jeopardy, a number of years ago. 

Jeff extends special thanks to his daughter, Meredith, for all the help she has given him in learning his lines.

Len Walentynowicz (Mr. Witherspoon) 

Len describes himself as “a seventy-something, portly, retired lawyer who is blessed with a lovely wife – Florence.”

This is his first theatrical venture, although he did perform with the Singing Boys of Buffalo and the Buffalo Tech High Band.

Many have said his 49 years as a litigator prepared him well to be a performer. He spent 25 years in the Washington, D.C. area as a result of his appointment to the post of assistant secretary of state by President Gerald Ford. He says he is fortunate to relocate to Western New York and St. Stephen’s.  

Len and his wife live in Fairway Greens at River Oaks. They enjoy the arts, walking, bridge, golf, tennis, shopping, and of course, parish life. 

John Wrzos (Dr. Einstein) 

John has spent most of his life acting up - some of it on stage. He has performed in shows with the All Christian Community Theater, Buffalo Little Theater, and Niagara Falls Little Theater, just to name a few. Arsenic and Old Lace is by far his favorite show and Dr. Einstein his favorite character. 

John spends his spare time working with the Radio Land Murder Company, doing murder mystery theater, and will be playing his guitar this summer around Buffalo.