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‘Mousetrap’ sets out to capture audiences

Trumbull New Theatre is a setting a trap with a proven favorite.

The Agatha Christie mystery “The Mousetrap” opens Friday for a three-weekend run at the Niles community theater. It’s been staged there twice before (as part of the 1977-78 and 1996-97 seasons), but that’s nothing compared to its longevity in Christie’s native England.

The play opened in 1952 and has run on London’s West End ever since, approaching 28,000 performances.

“Agatha Christie is just so timeless,” said Ronald Sinesio, who is directing the TNT production. “It’s an easy show to watch, an intriguing show with some depth to it. It shifts from very humorous to very serious … There’s such a cleverness to her work that it endures.”

While the play has been stage by countless community and regional theaters over the years, it’s never been adapted into a film. That’s by design. According to Christie’s estate, no film version of “The Mousetrap” can be made until six months after the show closes in London.

Christie, who died in 1976, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence on screen. A 2017 adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” directed by Kenneth Branagh earned more than $350 million worldwide, and he’s currently working on a version of “Death on the Nile.” Opening next month in theaters is “Knives Out,” a murder mystery by Rian Johnson that has a premise similar to “The Mousetrap.”

Christie’s play focuses on the owners and guests at Monkswell Manor guest house. When one of them turns up dead, a detective on the scene tries to sort out whodunit. It’s a story of characters who are not who they seem to be and surprise revelations. And even though the story is nearly 70 years old, audiences are encouraged to keep its twists a surprise.

Sinesio said he reached out to some of his friends in the theater community to assemble a cast that mixes some TNT regulars with actors normally seen on other stages.

The cast includes Lori George, Herb Everman, Brett Bunker, Lisa Bennett, Alan McCreary, Liz Conrad, Tom Jones, Jim Ewing and Gary Roddy.

“Herb Everman, who usually plays more broad, comic characters is playing a much more serious role as Giles, owner of the house,” Sinesio said. “Lisa Bennett, who is on our board, is playing the murder victim, who’s very impervious and stern and crabby. She’s usually directing or in the box office here. It’s very fun having her on stage.”

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