Theatre Factory's 'The Mousetrap' classic take on the 'whodunit'
The cast of The Theatre Factory’s upcoming production of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit, “The Mousetrap,” has a challenge for its audiences: “Can you keep a secret?”
Matthew Prichard, Christie’s grandson, reportedly once said that his grandmother always got upset if the plots of her books or plays were revealed.
“Mousetrap” is undoubtedly the playwright’s most popular murder mystery. It has been performed in London’s West End continuously since it first opened in 1952 and is still packing in crowds – booked at least through March 2019 – earning it the title of the world’s longest-running show.
A killer among us
The play takes place in a stately manor house during a snowstorm, when it turns out that one of the stranded strangers in the house is a killer.
Detective Sergeant Trotter (played by Jeremy Kuharcik of Pittsburgh) shows up to question the suspects, which include the proprietors and guests.
That’s when it’s time for the audience to really start paying attention.
Kuharcik says he’s waited 30 years for an opportunity to play the inquiring detective.
“I enjoy the role because I get to interact with every character in the play, and reveal their hidden back stories and skeletons in their closets,” he says.
“It’s also a blast to have an antagonistic relationship with Linda Stayer’s character, Mrs. Boyle, since one of the highlights of my stage career has been being pushed around by an actor I’ve respected for so many years. Linda is truly one of the Pittsburgh greats and any time I can perform with her I try to learn as much as I can, even if my character is on the whipping end of her character’s ire.”
Kuharcik has been captivated by the show since he first saw it as an adolescent.
Scared to death
“I have a vivid memory of sitting on the edge of my seat in the theater, scared to death and anxious to solve the mystery,” he says. “I love the feeling of being scared, or feeling like somebody is creeping up behind you; this show bottles up that feeling and keeps it going throughout the duration of the play.”
He says “The Mousetrap” has the best-crafted plot of any mystery he’s seen, with an incredible ending theatergoers won’t see coming. “The suspicion keeps jumping from one character to the next as different levels of their stories are revealed. And I literally get chills each night when the killer is revealed. Every night. Without fail,” he says.
Alyssa Bruno of Apollo, director, asks audiences to keep the ending to themselves. “We want other audiences to be able to enjoy figuring it out on their own,” she says.
Bruno has directed recent productions of “Big Fish” and “Disney’s Tarzan” for Leechburg Area High School and has acted in “King Lear” and “Romeo and Juliet” for Poor Yorick’s Players, among others.
The cast also includes Kaitlin Baker, Bill Fisher, Andy Nesky, Marisa Postava, Beck Seamen and Logan Williams.
The Theatre Factory is partnering with Papa Rocks Restaurant for dinner theater. Theatergoers will receive a 15 percent menu item discount; reservations must be made through the Theatre Factory.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review staff writer.