Dinner and a show: ‘The Mousetrap’

The lights went down and the voices of audience members fell silent as the University of Indianapolis Department of Theatre began its annual dinner theater production. Performed in the Schwitzer Student Center Dining Hall, “The Mousetrap” previewed on Feb. 22 and ran until Feb. 25, with follow-up shows running on March 2-3.

The play, written by Agatha Christie, first opened in the West End of London in 1952 and began as a short radio play broadcast before it was developed into a full-length stage play.

The play follows eight characters trying to figure out the identity of a murderer within the bed and breakfast where they are staying—all of the characters but one, since the murderer killed one guest at the end of Act I. The audience and the characters are then scrambling to figure out who the murderer is before the play comes to an end or before another one of them meets the same fate.

Freshman theatre major Noah Fields looks on as Christopher, played by freshman theatre major Chase Williams, reads about a murder in the town from the London newspaper. Senior theatre major Mickey Gray arrives to the manor and informs the other guests about the murder that occurred in the town. Photo by Ki Tally

Stage Manager and theater major Morgan DeLaRosa said that the production staff and the actors put a lot of hard work into building the set and that the effort paid off once the actors took the stage. According to DeLaRosa, doing a show in the dining hall every year is a good way for all of the actors, crews and designers to get the experience of working in a non-traditional theatre space.

“We built the majority of the set in just one day,” DeLaRosa said. “There have been some small additions over the past two to three weeks before production, but most of it got built at ‘load-in,’ which is where all the theater majors and minors come and help build the set for a day.”

Christopher Wren, who is played by freshman theater major Chase Williams, is one of the characters in this performance. Wren, a hyperactive and peculiar character, is the first guest to arrive at the hotel. He admitted to the audience he was running away from something, but refused to say what. Williams said that he related to his character.

“Without giving too much away, there is a certain depth to Christopher that I relate to,” Williams said. “Chris’s character focuses a lot on how bullying can affect a person, and how feeling like you do not belong takes a toll on a person. These are all aspects of his that I can personally relate to, and have been a pleasure to work on and flesh out.”

The people who are in the play and make the production possible are the best part about being involved in a performance like this, according to Williams. The props and set can be interesting and a beneficial addition to the play, but Willaims said it is the people that can make or break the show.

“I had our director, James Leagre, in Acting I last semester and really enjoyed his style of directing,” Williams said. “He has absolutely taught me so much about acting, it is honestly insane. Also it has been an incredible experience working with this cast and crew.”

Assistant Theater Professor and Director James Leagre has an extensive portfolio and worked in production for years before coming to UIndy.

Leagre said that his hope was that the audience pay close attention throughout the play and feel engaged in the story as they got closer and closer to finding out the identity of the culprit. He also said that viewers should pay close attention to each and every character and circumstance because hints about the killer’s identity are hidden throughout the play the murderer can be quite sneaky.

“Who knows, perhaps you can uncover the killer before the detective does,” Leagre said. “However, to be honest, it’s not likely since the detective is a seasoned detective and Agatha Christie certainly does not make it easy.”