On Bringing, “The Mousetrap”, to the Yorkshire Playhouse
It’s not very often one gets the chance to contribute to theatre history. An opportunity to take part in something larger, a spectacle that’s proven to survive, literature that, to this very day 60 years later, manages to connect multiple generations. Something like that is rare, and most certainly, fails to touch the likes of a small community.
Well, not anymore!
October marks the 125th birthday of the infamous mistress of mystery--and bathtub wordsmith—Agatha Christie. To commemorate this momentous literary occasion, the Yorkshire Playhouse opted to stage her classic “whodunit?” installment: “The Mousetrap.”
As this title remains the longest running theatrical production in world history (still going strong 64 years later, 8 times a week in London), a more perfect celebration could not have been conjured.
This experience has proven to be a tour-de-force of sorts. Countless memories, the grooming of tomorrow’s generations, and breathing modern life into the beautifully mythic art has lent me—and all those participating—a rather incredible chapter. What seems on the surface to be another delightful community theatre production has, in fact, transformed into an all-encompassing experience audiences are sure to enjoy and remember.
Equal parts comedy and psychological thriller, this classic style murder-mystery brings us seven of the most quirky and untrustworthy characters one may find. In the middle of it all is a short-tempered inspector attempting to unearth the darkest deviant of the group. Bound to a countryside guest-house due to the worst blizzard in decades, the sleazily entertaining cast of characters struggle to find alliance with another who can be trusted. Packing a twist-ending that’s sure to leave most audience member's mouths agape, the suspense boils to a wonderfully crafted reveal, tying together loose ends for a family of the past torn apart and once forgotten. “The Mousetrap” is as enjoyable as it is the gold-standard of the “whodunit?” formula.
Alongside this timeless script sets a fantastically talented cohort of performers. Therein lies the serendipitous layers of childhood nostalgia and full-circle connectivity.
Some of my earliest and most fond memories of childhood were found in the early ‘90’s at the basement of the Legion Club watching late-night Yorkshire rehearsals. The versatile talents of Sue Roush (Mom) and Karla Ott consistently on full display, giving their all to the art they believed in and sharing it with the York community. Now, here we are! It’s my turn to direct these two lovely women in a show that continues to leave its mark on theatrical history.
For a young budding performer, my early teen years hit at a perfect time in York’s history. I was granted the opportunities to play leading roles in the Playhouse’s first two installments of the Summer Children’s Theatre Program. Through more than a decade of wonderfully-imagined shows, and more than 1,000 kids on stage, the Children’s Theatre remains a staple of summer fun, collaboration, and excellence in York. Making this endeavor all the more exciting is the presence of Connor Mogul, William Wilton, and Clare Wilton. All three of them—wildly talented in their young ages—are products of the Children’s Theatre work. Watching them grow into fine adult creatives, and blend beautifully with a cast comprised mostly of those in generations before, they’ve managed to hold their own and belong. I would also mention the amazing contributions of Emily Petersen, a fellow Children’s Theatre alumnus, growing a successful career in the community, a dependable YP board-member, and delightfully talented actress who takes on a leading role in this show.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, outside of the mind-bending-ending, is the arrival of YP newcomer, Theresa Christiansen. She’s proven to be a burst of theatrical energy and commander of the stage. I’m so grateful she finally crossed that threshold daring to audition. Hers is a presence that should most assuredly be seen often on our stage.
Lest we forget the remarkably talented backbone of the cast, C. Danielle Deal and Kelle Widger, who are regular and incredibly versatile ornaments of the YP stage. They bring a level of experience, chemistry, and powerful performances that spark a contagious spirit of fun.
As an individual that’s been involved with the Yorkshire Playhouse off-and-on in one capacity or another for the better part of sixteen years, it is indeed a treasure to be a part of this production, at this time, with these marvelous people.
Agatha Christie’s, “The Mousetrap”, is one-hundred-percent certified, grade A, high-quality art. The community of York will undoubtedly enjoy this venture thoroughly. A stamp on theatre history is being made, and it says:
The Yorkshire Playhouse – Connecting generations, and bringing you a memorable theatrical experience.
Mitchell Roush, Director