The Depot Theater Company's fall production "The Mousetrap" opens Friday. The murder mystery, will run for three weekends, closing on Oct. 27.
The play tells the story of five guests stranded at a country inn by a blizzard. Along with the young couple who run the inn and the detective sergeant who arrives to investigate the murder, the guests each gradually reveal their connection to the murdered woman and their possible motives for her murder.
The play ends with a twist so surprising that the audience is traditionally asked not to tell the secret.
When Agatha Christie wrote "The Mousetrap," she expected the play to run eight months.
The play opened at the Theatre Royal on Oct. 6 of 1952.
And it never closed.
The play has logged over 25,000 performances and just celebrated its 60th anniversary.
"The Mousetrap" was first seen, or rather heard, as a short radio play called "Three Blind Mice." The play, which aired on May 30, 1947, was based on a true story.
Christie later turned the radio play into a short story, then into a stage play.
She gave the rights to the play to her grandson as a birthday present and attached several conditions to the production.
Christie directed that only one other production of the play can be produced annually so long as the original is playing. She also specified that no film version can be made of the play until the stage version has been closed for at least six months.
In 2010, the family of Agatha Christie was dismayed to learn that the online entry about the play on Wikipedia had revealed the surprise ending and the identity of the murderer.
Producing a classic
The Depot Theater Company production of "The Mousetrap" features eight veteran actors and is directed by Jennifer Vierthaler, who also directed the company's summer production of "Boeing, Boeing."
The cast has been rehearsing for four weeks in preparation for the Friday night opening performance.
"We're excited about having an audience," Darleen Clifton Smith said. Smith plays Mrs. Boyle, a crotchety guest.
"We're anxious to show what we're been able to put together," said Bradley Lies, who plays Christophen Wren, a quirky young architect.
"I'm anxious to see if we've kept them guessing — it they're asking questions and guessing who did it when we serve dessert," said Jill Druse, who plays Miss Casewell, a brusque and dismissing woman.
"It's really true that at intermission everything is possible — it's very muddy waters, like a shell game where you're guessing which cup the ball is under," said Lee Harlan, who plays Major Metcalf, a mysterious retired Army man.
"Every character has a secret they're keeping under wraps," Druse said.
Page 2 of 2 - "And everyone has different reasons to react differently to the action in Act one," Smith said.
As they waited to be called to stage for their first technical rehearsal, the cast was anxious to see some of the technology being employed for the production.
Music is heard actually playing on the vintage radio sitting on the desk. A fireplace and candles have realistic flames.
The cast attributes their confidence to the work of the director.
"She's always prepared and stays focused,"
"It makes it easier to deliver your part when the expectations are so clear."
The cast presented a scene from the play for the Depot Theater Guild last weekend. They were surprised that the scene got a few laughs.
"There are light-hearted times during the play. It's not all tense," Druse said.
"This is a great play for a fall evening and I really think people will enjoy it," said Ron Albrecht, who plays Mr. Paravicini, another mysterious guest who appears to have a lot to hide.
IF YOU GO
What: "The Mousetrap," a murder mystery by Agatha Christie
When: opens Friday for a three week run.
The lobby opens at 5:30 p.m., and dinner is served at 6:15 p.m.
Where: the Depot Theater Company
Tickets: Single tickets for dinner and the show are $40
Reservations may be made by calling (620) 225-1001
ON THE MENU
Portabello and roasted tomato bisque
Beef short ribs with pan sauce
O'Brien scalloped potatoes
Pumpkin crunch cake