Theater Info for the Washington DC region

VpStart Crow The Mousetrap

By • Oct 4th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
VpStart Crow
Gregory Family Theatre,
Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas, VA
Through October 9th
2:20 with one intermission
$20/$15 Students
Reviewed October 1st, 2011

The Mousetrap is a classic (running continuously since 1952 in London) murder mystery whodunit in two acts. A group of supposed “strangers” are stranded at an English bed and breakfast inn during a snow storm. Murder, intrigue and even some comedy make this an Agatha Christie classic.

Mollie and Giles Ralston were the owners of Monkwell Manor, an inn she inherited. Newly married, the couple played by Rachael Murray and Dan Clark, were eager to make their guests feel welcome and comfortable. The couple felt somewhat ill at ease in the beginning, but warmed up to each other as events unfolded. Clark became especially protective of Mollie as tensions heated up.

Besides Mollie, the other two female guests were Miss Casewell and Mrs. Boyle. Mrs. Boyle (Lee McKenna) played her role quite believably as a thoroughly unpleasant woman. Her constant complaining even managed to get to Mollie who tried her best to placate the grumpy old woman. McKenna had some line issues at the start of her scene, but those were resolved by the end of act one. Miss Casewell, played by Shaina Higgins, made her part mysterious. She seemed to be hiding some dark secret which made her seem somewhat cold. Higgins staging was appropriately stiff, as a part of her character.

Of the four male characters the two who garnered the most laughs were Christopher Wren, played by Peter Louis Johnson, and Mr. Paravicini, played by Geoffrey Baskir. Johnson’s wild untamed hair matched his personality well and endeared him to Mollie. Even Miss Casewell appeared to find him mildly amusing. Baskir’s character came across as weirdly creepy. Like the rest of the cast he was definitely hiding something and always seemed to be looking over his shoulder. His and Wren’s ability to pop in and out of scenes kept you wondering about their stories.

Besides Giles, the two most stable influences were Major Metcalf and Detective Seargent Trotter. Both men were efficient and their characters were steadfast. Metcalf, played by Larry Keeling, was a keen observer of the human condition. Eben Kuhns as Detective Trotter was efficiently meddling as was his occupation. His movements around the stage were controlled.

Director Clemente Santiago III allowed each actor to build their characters, and each character presented themselves as strangers inside the larger group. The ensemble cast worked well together, yet they all seemed to have something to hide…. They were very effective in building tension throughout the play, from the bickering of the newlyweds to the uncertainty of who each person should trust. Scene Designer Rob Batarla made wise use of the stage in creating the quaint inn. The appearance of snow through the window and on costumes as characters entered from the storm was a pleasure. It added believability when the guests commented on the snow to actually have snow on stage. The show’s lights and sound effects were very well done.

A well performed, believable Agatha Christie tale.

From the Director

Although I had known about the classic play by Agatha Christie, I had never actually seen it until this past Winter in London at the St. Martins Theatre, where it has been running for 34 years. As I sat in my seat and prepared myself, I thought “okay, a murder mystery from years pas, I’m sure it will be pretty easy to figure it out early on…right?” I was clearly wrong! The entire play I was constantly questioning every character, and changing my mind every five minutes, I that I almost annoyed the next person to me by gasping when I found out who the real killer was. What I remember the most was how much fun it was trying to figure it out. And so when I was given the privilege to direct and bring this show to VpStart Crow, I wanted to ensure that the audience would go through the same journey as I did.

In addition to annoying your family and friends with your guesses during the show, I wanted to include another way to reward someone who guessed correctly before the killer was revealed. So enclosed in this program is an interactive voting contest that will allow you to make your best guess as to who the killer is. During intermission, fill out the form with who you believe is the killer (and try not to cheat by searching online, that wouldn’t be part of the fun, I highly recommend trying to figure it out yourself). Then you can place your vote in the ballot box in the lobby. A drawing will be done at the end of the run, and one lucky winner will win TWO free season tickets! That’s a $120 value!

I’ll give you a few hints and things to remember while watching:

  • Never underestimate the power of the radio.
  • Remember where people are at all times.
  • Suspect everyone!

And most importantly, have fun! We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Clemente Santiago III, Director

Photo Gallery

Eben Kuhns (Detective Sargeant Trotter), Larry Keeling (Major Metcalf) and Peter Louis Johnson (Christopher Wren) Dan Clark (Giles Ralston) and Rachael Murray (Mollie Ralston)
Eben Kuhns (Detective Sargeant Trotter), Larry Keeling (Major Metcalf) and Peter Louis Johnson (Christopher Wren)
Dan Clark (Giles Ralston) and Rachael Murray (Mollie Ralston)
Peter Louis Johnson (Christopher Wren)
Peter Louis Johnson (Christopher Wren)

Photos by Cory Okouchi


  • Mollie Ralston: Rachael Murray
  • Giles Ralston: Dan Clark
  • Christopher Wren: Peter Louis Johnson
  • Mrs. Boyle: Lee McKenna
  • Major Metcalf: Larry Keeling
  • Miss Casewell: Shaina Higgins
  • Mr. Paravicini: Geoffery Baskir
  • Detective Seargent Trotter: Eben Kuhns


  • Scene Design: Rob Batarla
  • Costumes: Cast and Crew
  • Sound Design: Rob Batarla
  • Tech Director: Dan Clark
  • Producer: Rob Batarla
  • Properties: Shellie Jablonowski
  • Stage Manager: Leandra Lynn
  • Hair and Makeup: Mary Price
  • Directed by: Clemente Santiago III

Disclaimer: VpStart Crow provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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