How The Mousetrap produced it to 70 in the West Stop… and is last but not least heading to Broadway


o phase into the St Martin’s Theater is to action into theater history. Underneath the purple neon sign, previous the crowds jostling for selfies in entrance of its blue plaque, by way of the halls lined with Guinness Environment Record certificates and cartoons from a long time in the past, to the plush auditorium – with its patterned carpets, polished wood fittings and velvet curtains – that feels like a portal into a bygone period. Welcome to The Mousetrap experience, heritage theater writ substantial, as it prepares to rejoice however a different landmark in a background bursting with them.

Tomorrow, Agatha Christie’s murder secret, the world’s longest working engage in, turns 70. The occasion is staying marked by a unique midday functionality, followed by a reception at the Waldorf Resort with previous members of the solid and crew. It also reveled that the exhibit will ultimately make its Broadway premiere in 2023.

It has never been performed in New York before—due to a stipulation by Christie and the show’s first producer Peter Saunders, even though why is now unclear. Adam Spiegel, who has developed the present for the previous five several years, stated there was no far better way to mark this 70th anniversary and joked that it experienced last but not least transferred to Broadway just after the “longest out of city attempt-out in background”.

History is in all places with The Mousetrap. It opened the calendar year Queen Elizabeth came to the throne its 10th The anniversary was the very same calendar year as the Cuban Missile Crisis it marked its 20th birthday in the 12 months of Watergate and the Falklands War was going on when it turned 30, and on and on…

For a perform that turned the longest operating enjoy in British theater record in 1957 and has ongoing running ever given that – apart from for the enforced crack during the pandemic – the query has to be… how? How is this enjoy, which Christie initially wrote as a radio sketch for the BBC to honor the 80sth birthday of Queen Mary, wife of George V, still packing the crowds in? Times have transformed, culture has altered and preferences have transformed. But The Mousetrap endures.

The Mousetrap

It was surely a mystery to Christie. When questioned about its longevity on the 10th anniversary she gave the not fully effusive response: “It is not actually scary, it is not really awful, it is not seriously a farce but it has a minimal of all these points and possibly that satisfies a whole lot of diverse folks.”

Spiegel suggests the top secret of its remaining energy is one of the thoughts he’s requested most often. “I do not have a extremely satisfactory answer,” will come his response when I grow to be the latest to question. “It’s truly strange that a enjoy has been on for 70 yrs. There are performs that don’t make seven times. Seventy many years is astonishing. There is just not a specific scientific purpose for it.”

A person component, he suggests, is that it has come to be a “beacon of London theatre” The Fiscal Instances after noted that closing The Mousetrap would be like the ravens leaving the Tower of London. Outside the house the theater is a quote from the Daily Telegraph, “I consider it could run for good.”

It opened at a time when performs commonly ran for three months, so by the time The Mousetrap strike its 10th birthday in 1962 it was by now a phenomenon. “There is some thing in its really longevity creating it additional and much more astonishing,” Spiegel states.

When it was initially staged, The Mousetrap was a modern participate in, but in 2022 it is pure theater nostalgia. “The societal changes in the earlier 70 a long time are possibly additional radical than in any 70 decades in heritage,” Spiegel states. “You are going from ration publications to people scheduling their tickets on their telephones.”

Agatha Christie, correct, with Peter Saunders, Sheila Sim and Richard Attenborough


One big component in its success is evidently the enduring reputation of Christie, the most effective novelist of all time. And even though few believe of her as a playwright, she was accomplished in the form and nonetheless holds the record as the only girl to have 3 shows working in the West End at the similar time – The Mousetrap, Witness for the Prosecution (a generation of which is also operating these days at County Hall, possessing opened in 2017) and Spider’s Internet, all in 1954.

Saunders, the initial producer and a former journalist, experienced previously set on Murder at the Vicarage, billing it as Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage to deliver in the punters, and it worked. She then offered him The Mousetrap.

The name by itself is a reference to Hamlet. Browsing for a far better title than the first 3 Blind Mice, Christie’s son-in-regulation recommended naming it right after the enjoy-in-the-engage in that Hamlet levels “to capture the conscience of the king”. Christie said, “I favored the title, and consequently started off in 1952 The Mousetrap.”

Saunders cannily solid movie star Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim in the first operate and it opened on Oct 6 at the Theater Royal in Nottingham, just before heading to the Ambassadors Theater (the place it stayed right up until 1974, when it moved to its present-day home, the St Martin’s Theatre, upcoming door). Right after a combined reaction, Christie guessed it would run for a issue of months.

Determined for it to work, Saunders went on a significant advertising and marketing push, and they marked just about every anniversary, like its 1,000th performance, 1,200 and 1,500. The evening I went, the quantity on the board marking the effectiveness quantity stood at 28,885.

However general public desire has gone by peaks and troughs and when Spiegel took in excess of he claims it was definitely feeling its age. “I felt it could do with an injection of some power. It experienced grown fairly drained. While people today however went to see it, it did not experience like it experienced the rock star status that a engage in that experienced been on that long deserved.”

Adam Spiegel, producer of The Mousetrap


Then Covid struck and its producers feared the show could not endure the lockdown that it was the pure endpoint. “That designed me established to make guaranteed the West End reopened with The Mousetrap,” he suggests. “That if we failed to existing ourselves entrance and centre, we may be overlooked about.” He established about refreshing the clearly show, the sets and the marketing.

And on May 17, 2021, it was the initially major West Close clearly show to reopen. That appears to be to have been the spark that reinvigorated it. There had been tv crews from all about the entire world on a night time Spiegel describes as “media mayhem… The Mousetrap could in no way have produced that in any other conditions.” It also opened with star casting – stellar theater names these types of as Danny Mac and Cassidy Jensen – for the initial time considering that its initial opening with the Attenboroughs.

It definitely worked. It can be back actively playing to packed houses, with people coming from around the globe Spiegel stated before this thirty day period the present had its best 7 days in terms of revenue and attendance in 70 a long time.

At the midweek effectiveness I went to a couple of weeks ago, which was full, a roar went up at an interval unlike any I would heard in a long time. This display sells alone to audiences as earning them element of its historical past, and they weren’t going to allow the possibility go by, whether cheering the solid, having selfies or shelling out for some Mousetrap merch (from the £10 tea towel to £ 24 diamante cufflinks).

Also the theatre, whether or not the West Close or on tour, is the only place to see The Mousetrap. It has never ever been tailored on movie or Tv – other than as the backdrop to this year’s See How They Run, which opens at a social gathering in the theater celebrating the show’s 100th efficiency – due to a quirk in the agreement. Christie stipulated that she didn’t want a movie to be manufactured right until six months after the West Finish output had closed.

Queen Elizabeth II satisfies Katie Boyle, whose husband Peter was the very first producer of The Mousetrap at the show’s 50th anniversary in 2002

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No 1 from the unique manufacturing is nevertheless alive these days and there is just one piece of set from that very first night, a clock that sits on the mantelpiece. That clock has stood witness to 7 a long time of strangers, all with strategies to disguise, snowed in collectively in the Excellent Hall of Monkswell Manor visitor home. Who are they seriously, and as a policeman turns up, are they all in danger from a assassin? Christie knows how to plot and her misdirections are masterful. Some viewers users might also be surprised at the dim coronary heart that underpins the tale.

The Night Normal also helps make a cameo in The Mousetrap, marking an crucial plot position about establishing exactly where 1 character was, or was not, the preceding working day. And the historical past between the newspaper and the display does not close there.

In 1970, the London Night News, which would be included into the Normal a ten years later, supplied a efficiency of The Mousetrap at the Ambassadors Theater as a prize in a competitiveness. The winner could give it absent, see the clearly show by by themselves or preserve the night’s takings. The winner, housewife Brenda Coleman. chose to give half the takings to Good Ormand Avenue, which had served help save her daughter’s sight. She also invited healthcare facility personnel to a champagne reception, and with the sum remaining over went on holiday getaway with her partner.

Whichever way you glimpse, The Mousetrap is in the heritage business, and that business enterprise is booming. As a sign outdoors the theater asks, have youdunnit?

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The Mousetrap runs at St Martin’s Theater right until… united kingdom/

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