The Mousetrap

E MOUSETRAP – Written by Agatha Christie; Directed by Sam Gregory. Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center (10075 Commons Street, Lone Tree) through April 21. Tickets available at 720-509-1000 or 

“Written by Agatha Christie.”  Quite often, that’s all it takes to get someone to walk through the door of a theatre.  The devious twists and turns of the plot – the suspense that builds throughout the performance – the possibility of any of the characters being the murderer – the old English atmosphere . . . . all signposts of Mrs. Christie’s work. 

But this particular potboiler has had a long and colorful history.  After a short tour around the provinces in 1951, THE MOUSETRAP began its London run in November of 1952 in the Ambassador Theatre where it played to nearly sold-out houses for 22 years.  Continuing the tradition, the show then moved to the St. Martins Theatre where it has added to its history by performing continuously for 68 years, until Covid shut it down.  After a closure of 14 months, it was the first show back on the boards in London. 

In 1939, the cast gave a performance to the Wormwood Scrubs Prison to entertain the inmates.  Two prisoners took advantage of the distraction and managed to escape during the show.  In 2002, Queen Elizabeth attended the 50th anniversary performance.  In 2012, a touring company in the UK featured such noted actors as Hugh Bonneville (DOWNTON ABBEY), as Giles, the husband; Julie Walters (BILLY ELLIOT) as the nasty Mrs. Boyle, and Patrick Stewart (STAR TREK) as the mysterious stranger Paravicini.  What fun to have seen that production! And most noteworthy, in the summer of 2021, a visitor from Denver attended the 28 thousand something performance on her first trip to London since 1966.  And it’s still going strong. 

Even though you have probably seen the show before and may (or may not) remember who the killer is, it’s just fun seeing the story acted out again in the hands of a director who knows what he is doing and a cast that revels in the tradition.  The current production at the Lone Tree Arts Center is tight, well presented, pretty and extremely professional.  This cast could absolutely stand shoulder to shoulder with the London cast I saw during that recent visit. 

Among the cast of ten, only three are making their Colorado debut.  Alex Esola and Erika Mori do a fine job as the married couple nervously opening their brand-new guest house to a mixed bag of patrons.  Their ease with each other before the guests arrive provides a contrast as suspicion raises its ugly head later in the show.  Guest No. 1 is Sean Johnson who plays the skittish over-the-top pseudo-architect with a full helping of nervous energy and wildly fluctuating mood swings.  Guest No. 2 is the mean-spirited Mrs. Boyle (Tara Falk) who complains endlessly about the lack of a full time staff to see to her every need.  She makes herself a target of derision from the other guests because of her rudeness.  Guest No. 3 is the mild mannered and quietly efficient Major Metcalf (Brik Berkes) who moves into action when the lights go out.  Fourth is Rachel Darden as Miss Casewell, a cool professional woman who goes her own way and makes her own rules. 

A winter storm leads to two unexpected guests.  Mr. Paravicini (Soren Oliver) claims his car ran off the road into a snow drift and he has walked through the snow to the house (although his coat displayed no clue of having been exposed to snow) (hmmmm?).  The last to arrive on the scene is Sgt. Trotter from the local constabulary who skied to the house to warn everyone of the danger in their midst (played by Colton Blair). 

Sam Gregory, the director, has found the humor in the script and created some character bits to devise even more comical situations which the actors seem to relish unleashing.  The single set is the Great Hall in Monkswell Manor, and it is Gorgeous.  Designed by Kevin Nelson, built by Jen Kiser and her tech crew, painted by Mallory Hart and Sherry Hern, dressed by Katie Webster, lit by Jon Dunkle, and provided with appropriately creepy Three Blind Mice music by Jason Ducat, the Manor is Grand, Gracious and Grandiose.  Elegant with a capital E. 

It seems a shame to only run for two weekends after you have spent all that effort to rehearse and build.  But that seems to be the case. If you want to revisit your old friends at Monkswell Manor, you’ve only got one more weekend left to get there. 

A WOW factor of 8.75!! 

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