Fond memories of the late Roger Butterworth as Rustington Players take the stage

Rustington Players bring Arsenic & Old Lace to the stage in memory of Roger Butterworth.

Roger Butterworth as Teddy Brewster from November 2004 production of Arsenic & Old Lace
Roger Butterworth as Teddy Brewster from November 2004 production of Arsenic & Old Lace

Players spokeswoman Rita Rooke-Matthews said: “Roger was a much loved and colourful character in the local community. Sadly he died in November 2017, aged 69. He taught history at Littlehampton Community School and was survived by a nephew and his mother.

“He was held in high esteem locally and his career touched the lives of hundreds of pupils. Amateur dramatics was just one of his interests. He played the comedic role Teddy for the last production of Arsenic & Old Lace by Rustington Players. A gallery in the Littlehampton Museum has been named after him.

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“He was described as eccentric and lovable and was a well-known figure around the locality. He was particularly renowned for his extensive collection of bow ties which were distributed to those attending his funeral as a little memento of this man whose life had touched the lives of so many. This presentation of Arsenic & Old Lace is a tribute to his contribution with Rustington Players, which included him playing the role of Teddy in the 2004 production. Many members have fond memories of his time with the company and we also remember his work with Littlehampton Academy, River Beach Primary School and Littlehampton Museum, as well as his involvement with numerous local organisations including St Barnabas and the Samaritans.”

Rita added: “The play is set in 1941 in a house next to a cemetery in Brooklyn, the home of two apparently-kind, thoughtful, sweet old ladies, Martha and Abby Brewster (Vinny Shepherd and Maureen Ayres). Unfortunately, the sisters have developed a bad habit of murdering lonely old men as a charitable work by giving them their laced elderberry wine! Their bugle-blowing eccentric nephew, Teddy (Colin Bolton) thinks he is President Roosevelt and buries the bodies in the cellar. Another nephew, Mortimer (Chris Harris) returns home to find a body in the window seat and believes Teddy must be responsible.

“Then a third nephew, the shady Jonathan (Jody Bull) returns to cause trouble after years of fleeing the authorities with his alcoholic side-kick Dr Einstein (Zahir White). The story develops as Mortimer tries to keep his aunts safe and prevent them from continuing their nasty habit while trying to stay sane for the attractive Elaine Harper (Sarah Johnson) whom he hopes to marry. Who will finish up in the Happy Days Sanatorium and will the ladies find more victims for their elderberry wine?”

Performances are at 7.45pm from Weds, Nov 14-Sat, Nov 17 at the Woodlands Centre, Rustington. Tickets or 0754630643 (no booking fee).