Walla Walla's Little Theatre taking on melodrama with 'Mousetrap'

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerFebruary 8, 2013 

Dame Agatha Christie predicted her play, The Mousetrap, would run eight months after it premiered in London in 1952.

Who knew how wrong the queen of crime writing could be.

The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest unbroken run in a London theater, and in 2012, it crested its 25,000th performance worldwide.

The melodrama opens Feb. 8 at The Little Theatre of Walla Walla, with additional performances Feb. 9, 15-16 and 22-23. Curtain time is 8 p.m.

The story is vintage Christie packed with whodunits, a pack of quirky characters, including an evil murderer, and an unusual investigator.

Christie wrote a bundle of mystery novels, always featuring a delightful mix of personalities, from Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to Miss Marple. Her stories have charmed generations of readers.

In the Walla Walla version, George Smith and Rich Hinz are co-directing the play and have had their share of challenges.

"It would be easy to let the play be over the top, but that really wouldn't do it justice," Smith said. "Our challenge as directors has been to try and keep the play fresh, interesting and believable and to work with the cast to keep these odd characters from becoming caricatures."

Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a strong cast, he added. "We are fortunate to be working with some of the best (actors)."

The cast includes Al Chang as Giles Ralston, Sydney Boyd as Mollie Ralston, Michael Blackwood as Christopher Wren, Paul McLain as Major Metcalf, Robert Randall as Mr. Paravicini, Richard Wallace as Inspector Trotter, Mariah Newhouse as Mrs. Casewell, and Patricia Wilson as Mrs. Boyle.

As the story goes, a group of strangers are stranded in a boarding house during a snowstorm. One of them is a murderer.

But who? The newlyweds who run the boarding house? The spinster? The architect who fancies himself a chef? The retired Army major? The obnoxious jurist?

The mystery escalates when a snow-skiing policeman shows up, and suddenly people start dying. For those who've seen it, you already know about the delicious twist that brings The Mousetrap to an end.

It was always important to Christie that her endings were kept quiet until the reader or viewer saw it for themselves. So don't spill the beans, or you may experience a haunting from the dame herself, who died in 1976.

The Little Theatre is at 1130 Sumach St. Tickets cost $14 and are available at the box office or by calling 509-529-3683.

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