When Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap takes to the stage this month, audiences will once again have the chance to revel in a period piece that has long been a beloved classic of the mystery genre.
To miss it, to wit, would be murder.
The Mousetrap opened the new Theatre Calgary season on Sept. 12, giving theatre goers a sometimes wry, sometimes sly take on the world’s longest running English language play.
“I think there’s a lot of folks in the city who may have heard of this show, but haven’t actually experienced it live before,” said Tyrell Crews (Theatre Calgary’s Much Ado About Nothing, A Christmas Carol) who is playing Police Sgt. Trotter.
“It’s exciting to feel the audience’s reaction. Lots of folks are still surprised… it’s a real privilege.”
The mystery a secret held by audiences since the 1950s
Famously, The Mousetrap is a production where not much is revealed about the plot, lest the murder mystery cease to be so mysterious. Audiences have been routinely asked to keep the murderer a secret through the play’s run, which began in 1952 in London’s West End.
Yet, said Crews, the company has taken great efforts to produce a play that has all of the red herrings, easter eggs, and misdirections worthy of Christie’s original work.
“Throughout the rehearsal process, there’s segments where it just feels like Sergeant Trotter is just interrogating this roomful of people but we needed to discover what what the real tone was, and it’s only a matter of degrees too,” Crews said.
“If we turn it up too loud, then we’re like ‘wait a second, is he the killer?’ Rather than putting the the focus equally around. So it was it was a lot of a lot of rehearsal and a lot of a lot of testing the limits of what what felt right for the room.”
The key, said Crews, was to recognize that each of the company has a role to play in making the mystery together for the audience.
“We use the term passing the ball. Passing the ball and keeping that ball in the air and not letting it drop. And so, if it’s your turn to pass it, and if someone’s receiving that information, whatever it is—plot point, red herring on stage—we’re there supporting that. The other performers are great, not sitting in the corner and cowering and fidgeting like crazy and drawing unnecessary attention,” he said.
“We said from the beginning, there’s no stars in the show. It’s 100 per cent an ensemble piece, and everybody’s doing that.”
The production stars, in addition to Crews, Kit Benz in their Theatre Calgary debut (The Jungle Book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (ATP)), Natascha Girgis (TC: Sherlock Holmes, Evita, A Christmas Carol), Christian Goutsis (TC: Noises Off, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Vanessa Leticia Jetté (TC: Little Women, A Christmas Carol), Robert Klein (TC: A Christmas Carol, King Lear), Matthew Mooney (TC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Mike Tan (TC: A Christmas Carol).
The production was directed by Craig Hall in his Theatre Calgary debut.
The Mousetrap runs from Sept. 12 to Oct. 8, at Arts Commons. Tickets are available, starting at $39, at www.theatrecalgary.com/shows/2023-2024-the-mousetrap.