LORETTO - A classic Whodunit mystery is coming to the Cresson Lake Playhouse.
Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" will hit the stage Thursday and run through Sept. 7.
The play, which opened in London in 1952, is the longest-running play ever, said the production's director Rachel Wagner of Cresson.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
The cast of Cresson Lake Playhouse’s “The Mousetrap” includes: (seated, from left) Tom Lizska as Major Metcalf, Jill Smith as Mollie Ralston, Joe Hancharick as Giles Ralston and Jonathan O’Harrow as Christopher Wren; (standing, from left) Rich Volpe as Paravicini, Michele Grove as Miss Casewell, Valerie Stratton as Mrs. Boyle and Sam Wagner as Sergeant Trotter.
"It was the first of its kind as far as the murder-mystery, Whodunit genre. A lot of the things in it seem conventional to us now, but when it was written they were brand new ideas and set the tone for that whole kind of story or play. So it's a really cool thing to be a part of because of the history of it," Wagner said.
"It really feels like you're a part of history. You just think there has to be something substantial or special about this because it's lasted for this long so to be a part of a production of it is a neat opportunity for all of us."
Traditionally, the audience is asked not to reveal the ending of the show, and Wagner plans for the cast to ask area audiences to do the same, she said.
If you go
What: Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap"
Where: Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays from Thursday to Sept. 7; 2 p.m. matinee Sept. 1
Tickets: $17 for adults and $10 for students under age 18. Tickets may be reserved by calling 472-4333.
The show is about a group of people who get stuck in a guest house together during a winter storm and a murder in town puts one or more of them under suspicion, said Wagner, who has directed twice before at the playhouse and teaches and directs summer workshops for children with the Altoona Community Theatre.
"We have a really great group of people that we're working with," Wagner said. "A handful of us have worked together for years and are good friends. Actually one of the cast members is my husband and another cast member is my dad. And then we also have a handful of brand new people who just came out who haven't done much theater before who are just awesome and doing such a great job so it's a really cool combination of people."
Among the combination is Jill Noelle Smith of Portage who plays Mollie, one of the guest house's owners along with her husband, Giles, played by Joe Hancharick of Johnstown, who is new to community theater.
"This unique Agatha Christie mystery will compliment some of the comedies and musicals that have been done in local theaters so far this summer, and I like the 'Clue' motif that has been integrated into the costumes," he said in an email.
Wagner said her set and costume concepts are influenced by the movie "Clue" because of her vision of the production as a "non-realistic artificial game that's going on almost between these characters."
The playhouse's production is "phenomenal," Smith said in an email.
"People in general love to sit back and watch other people reacting to intense situations and crazy circumstances," Smith said in an email. "It's in our nature as people to react with other people and to feel sympathy, and to even characterize people and suspect them. So it's amazing that Agatha Christie even back into the early '50s was able to pull people in, keeping them at the edge of their seats, and their minds fully intrigued.
"You can definitely see why the play is still running today. It's a full course meal, and, trust me, she definitely saved the best part for last. You'll leave the production still digesting all that you have seen."
A nail-biter is what Wagner had in mind for the audience.
"I hope that they are very intrigued and confused and in suspense the whole night," Wagner said. "I hope that it feels like a game for them too, trying to pick up the different clues from the different characters and try to figure out for themselves who they think the killer was. So I hope that they leave just having been very entertained and kept on their toes."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.