Sally Wingert ready for Guthrie return

After a year of performing in London and New York, and with side trips to prisons and community centers around Minnesota, Sally Wingert is returning "home." The veteran actor stars as one of the murderous sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace, which opened this weekend at the Guthrie Theater.

Wingert described the Joseph Kesselring chestnut as a "handsome" piece of theater. "There is a lot of plot, but there is also gorgeous character stuff going on," she said a couple weeks ago as the company got ready for the show's first preview.

Most people remember the basic plot: two spinster sisters murder lonely old men and bury them in the basement. They may also remember that the nephew believes that he is Teddy Roosevelt (he thinks the graves are the Panama Canal). There is actually quite a bit more plot, including one nephew who is a theater critic, and another who seems to have caught the family madness, and who also resembles Boris Karloff (Karloff played the role when the show first ran on Broadway in 1941).

Wingert believes that most people haven't seen the show since they first saw it--or performed it--in high school, and will find the full story to be a real revelation.

From last summer to earlier this year, Wingert was part of the company of Le Bete, which played in the West End and then on Broadway. Once back in the Twin Cities, she performed as the suspicious sister in Ten Thousand Things' terrific production of Doubt. Arsenic and Old Lace marks her first performance at the Guthrie since last summer's Faith Healer.

The company features Kristine Nielsen as the second sister, Bob Davis as Teddy, and Wingert's Doubt partner Kris Nelson as Dr. Einstein. The veteran cast has helped to make the return that much easier. "I always work better when I am relaxed," says Wingert. "It is so much easier to have a sense of play."

Not to mention the comfort of returning to the Guthrie, where Wingert has performed so many times through the years.

"I'm really happy to have come back to my 'home' theater. It's almost like I haven't been gone for almost all of the past year," Wingert says. "When I first got back, I greeted one of the volunteers at the information desk. He said, 'Welcome back Sally.' It just feels so great."

Arsenic and Old Lace runs through June 5.

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