The Mousetrap is to celebrate its diamond jubilee year with a series of 60-themed plans including its first ever UK tour starting in September 2012.
Running in the West End since 25 November 1952 – making today its 59th birthday – the original production of Agatha Christie’s thriller has been seen by around 10 million people, said its producer, Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen. The new tour, which promises star casting throughout its 60-venue, 60-week run, will “be popular with people who don’t want to come to London to see a show,” he said, adding that he did not feel it would in any way damage the West End production, which still “gets good houses”.
Also announced for the 60th year, the production’s charity, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, will run an educational project at 60 primary schools, and 60 international productions have been licensed to run during the year. Continuing the theme, a 60p charity charge will be applied to the ticket price to benefit charities working with young people and the arts.
Waley-Cohen, who bought the rights to the production from original producer Peter Saunders in 1994, was at the St Martin’s theatre today to announce the plans, along with Christie’s grandson, Matthew Prichard, Artistic Director David Turner and members of the current cast.
Turner, who has directed 16 different cast changes over 23 years, said: “I remember coming on my first morning to start rehearsals and I don’t think I’ve ever been more frightened in my life because I thought crikey, I’m part of theatre history.”
Marcel Bruneau, who has been playing Sergeant Trotter since the last cast change in October, added: “You feel like you are a torchbearer, keeping this piece of history going.”
Being in the West End’s longest-running show does add a certain pressure, said Bruneau. “I get really scared. You think, you could be the one that kills it! But the team behind it are so strong, the writing is so specific, you are never going to deviate too much from it.”
After 60 years, the big question is how long The Mousetrap can go on. “People say, are you keeping it on to break records?” said Turner. “The answer is, there are no records to break, they have all been broken. And when people stop coming to see it, it will close, it’s as simple as that.”
“But it is a good piece,” he added. “I think it’s fairly easy to send it up and you should never do that because you kill the piece. You have to treat it with respect and trust the words. Trust Agatha. Don’t try to be clever.”
Part of the success of the show must also be down to its famous plea to audiences not to reveal whodunit. It was for this reason that when the film rights to the story were sold many years ago, said Waley-Cohen, it was with the proviso that it couldn’t be shown until six months after the stage show had closed. Whoever holds those rights may have a long time to wait yet. “60 isn’t the end,” said Prichard, “I see no reason why it shouldn’t go on for another 60 years.”