Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" opened in the West End of London in 1952 and has been running ever since--the longest continuously performed play in theater history! And ProArts' production, which opened in Kihei last week, could easily set a new benchmark for Maui.
"The Mousetrap" is a great ensemble piece, a mystery and a farce all rolled into perfect timing that keeps this play barreling along like an expert skier on a triple black diamond hill schussing to its surprise conclusion.
A snowstorm, quite unusual for England, blankets the countryside outside of London. The Ralstons--Giles and Mollie (Chris and Jennifer Rose)--have opened their country home, Monkswell Manor, as an inn as they nervously await their inaugural guests.
Chris and Jennifer Rose blossom as Giles and Mollie Ralston in ProArts’ “The Mousetrap.” The Roses met in college during a scene from this play. This is the first time the two have appeared together on Maui. Photo: Jack Grace Photography
First on the scene is Christopher Wren (Dylan Bode), a flaming architect who loves to cook and sprawls on the couch without removing his shoes.
Next is Mrs. Boyle (Rose Roselinsky), a bitter magistrate who finds nothing as advertised and isn't shy about letting the Ralstons know what she thinks.
Accompanying her is Major Metcalf (Dale Button), a pipe-smoking Brit right out of central casting, who enjoys the inn's basement.
Miss Casewell (Felicia Chernicki) is a leggy brunette who smokes incessantly and is apparently, like Wren, another character whose gender preference is a mystery.
Then comes Mr. Paravicini (Mark Collmer), a real character who claims to have rolled his Rolls in the storm and is delighted to find the inn.
Finally, Detective Sgt. Trotter (Francis Tau'a) skis into the scene. He's a copper on a mission to protect the owners and guests. Armed with a message from a murder victim, he proceeds to investigate.
This smorgasbord of characters is thrown together on stage after a murder and then another murder is committed at the inn with the detective on the scene. Who done it? The audience is sworn to secrecy--and I'll never tell! I can tell you one thing, it wasn't the butler. (The inn has no staff.)
What I can tell is this is another triumph for Jonathan Lehman's ProArts and Director Kristi Scott. Every ProArts show raises the bar a little more, but with "The Mouse Trap," they have entered rarified air.
In farce and mysteries, comings and goings are almost as important as what happens on stage, and Scott has directed this piece like George Balanchine meets Twyla Tharp. She has expertly blended these elements into a seamless work that ticks along with the precision of a Swiss watch.
The Roses, appearing together for the first time since college, literally blossomed as the Ralstons. In an art-imitates-life element, Giles and Mollie met in college while perfoming a scene from "The Mousetrap." They are marvelous, reminiscent of Nick and Nora of "The Thin Man" fame.
Bode as Christopher Wren has thrown caution to the wind, reveling in this character and enjoying every moment. The audience obviously loved his performance.
Roselinsky puts Mrs. Boyle on like a comfortable housecoat, delighting in the misery she finds in every moment and incident at Monkswell Manor.
Button, back for yet another ProArts production, portrays a thoroughly credible character. Another tribute to his acting skill, Button is known for some of the most over-the-top characters in all of Maui theater.
Collmer's Paravicini is an unforgettable character who we know less about than any other.
Chernicki as Casewell is a welcome newcomer with a real presence the machine gun-like vintage film noir delivery of Lauren Bacall and Kate Hepburn.
Finally Tau'a demonstrates his range as an actor by creating a cockney gumshoe who commands the play from the moment he enters until the inevitable who-done-it discovery.
Like all ProArts plays, production values are of the highest quality, but Caro Walker's great hall is a marvel--one of the best sets this remarkable designer has ever created.
And Sarah Loney's costumes are perfect. I particularly liked Casewell's outfit and both looks for Mrs. Boyle.
"The Mousetrap," originally scheduled to close after performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 1 4, will also take the stage on Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17.
To find out who done it, purchase tickets in advance by calling 463-6550 or visiting www.proartspacific.com.