The Testing of Detective Skills With “The World’s Longest Running Play”
Frostburg State University Theatre and Dance is presenting Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap in the Drama Theatre of the Performing Arts Center on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16th and 17th, and Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 22nd to 24th, at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday Oct. 17th.
The Mousetrap is widely known for being the world’s longest running play and its secretive ending. Audience members are often asked to not speak of the outcome so other viewers will not have a spoiled experience. Christie’s popular play has thrilled numerous audiences around the world for years since its premiere in London’s West End in 1952.
The play follows married couple Mollie and Giles Ralston, played by students Maureen Groff and Matthew Clark, and their endeavor of renting out rhe rooms of their home – the Monkswell Manor. They end up with multiple strangers staying under their roof while a monstrous snowstorm takes over the outside world. In the meantime, police investigators work to solve a duo of nearby murders. According to visiting Detective Sergeant Trotter, the murderer is believed to be located at the Monkswell Manor, and planning to carry out their third and final murder. The well-known lullaby “Three Blind Mice” tune plays eerily throughout many scenes, hinting that the third murder will happen at any second.
Mollie, Giles, and each renter are investigated and begged for information by Detective Sergeant Trotter. If they do not fess up to any knowledge they withhold, someone – maybe even themselves – will be next.
The FSU Theatre department put tremendous amounts of effort into their production of The Mousetrap, and it has been entered in the Kennedy Center’s Region II American College Theatre Festival.
Senior student and set designer Erik Braun described how the planning process began as early as May. The students interested in being a part of the production decided to meet early on in the year so they could “lay a good foundation before everyone left for summer.” Braun refers to his job as the “scenic designer and master electrician.” He is responsible for designing the set and working the lighting rig. Though his crew has been very busy, they were able to have a set concept for the stage by late August.
Sophomore costume designer Rachel Saylor also ran her tail off to successfully dress and organize the appearance of each cast member. Within her budget, Saylor had to figure out the clothes, hair, and makeup for each individual character. She explained that when costume designing a show, she first checks the stock to see what is readily available. From there, she modifies already purchased costumes and accessories, or goes to places like GoodWill to find other viable options. Occasionally, new purchases are necessary to make an actor fit their part. For this particular performance, wigs and mustaches were bought. Saylor also took the time to knit two ties, reconstruct a dress into a skirt, create a man’s vest, and dye a sweater to make it the perfect color.
Faculty director Jennifer Goff stated that The Mousetrap is “a product of its time  and can feel sort of dusty and old.” The cast and crew had the difficult and tricky goal of “making sure that it doesn’t feel too far away to today’s audience.” Goff also expressed her love for Christie’s characters. “They’re funny, they’re weird, they’re complicated,” she exclaimed. She hopes audience members look away at intermission to argue who the killer is, and leave the performance thinking that they had fun.
The production is full of suspense, good humor, surprises, and great acting. Audience members can test their detective skills while wondering who under that roof could possibly be capable of murder. The quirky characters are destined to win over the hearts of many.
General admission tickets are $12 and student tickets are $6. More pricing information on season subscriptions or group prices can be found by calling the Dance and Theatre box office at (301) 687-7462.