'Mousetrap’ set at Beatniks

2014-01-31T17:58:00Z 2014-02-12T12:05:35Z 'Mousetrap’ set at BeatniksBy TIM SHELLBERG Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 31, 2014 5:58 pm  • 

Valerie Wotkun, director of Hammond Community Theatre’s production of “The Mousetrap,” came across Agatha Christie’s beloved murder mystery by unconventional means.

“My daughter directed this when she was in high school, and I found the script in a pile of things of hers,” she said. “I found all of the scripts that she had through high school, and some of them were way too high school-ish to do. This one was more appealing to do because it was appealing to adults.”

Opening Feb. 7 and running through Feb. 16 at Hammond’s Beatniks on Conkey, “Mousetrap” finds a group of guests stuck in a manor during a snowstorm with a murderer in their midst. All of the guests, including a military major, an architect and the couple who own the grounds, are suspect in this beloved whodunit.

Based on a short story penned by Christie in the mid 1940’s “Moustrap” has become a theatrical institution in the beloved mystery writer’s homeland. The play made its stage debut at London’s West End in1952 and continues to run in London today, with more than 25,000 performances more than six decades after first curtain.

“Mousetrap also proved to be a long-running hit with Canadian theatergoers; a Toronto production of the play ran for more than a quarter century.

“We talked about (the play’s longevity) a lot in rehearsal, me and the cast, and we laugh and think ‘it’s a murder mystery. It’s been going for 60 years, hasn’t anybody figured it out?” Wotkun said. “I think the characters are interesting and Agatha Christie makes everyone look guilty, and it’s just a lot of fun.”

Mike Lerner from Hobart plays boarding house proprietor Giles Ralston in Hammond Community Theatre’s production of “Mousetrap” and Betsy Archer from Munster portrays his wife, Mollie Ralston. They are joined onstage by Aaron Duncil from Portage as detective Sargeant Trotter, Kali Rasla-Fitch as the elderly Mrs. Boyle and Dyer’s Rip Johnson as retired Army Major Metcalf.

“The actors are all doing a really good job,” Wotkun said. “They’re all acting like they’re up to something. It’s really entertaining.”

Next up for Hammond Community Theatre is a production of Neil Simon’s comic drama “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” scheduled to open at Beatniks April 4.

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