It's been quite a while since a thriller or murder mystery was presented on Maui, and I can't think of a more fitting location than the intimate ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. ProArts will open Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," the longest-running play in history, Friday, Feb. 17. One of Christie's seminal works, "The Mousetrap" started off in 1947 as a radio play titled "Three Blind Mice" before evolving into its current stage version which opened in London's West End in 1952 and has been running ever since. The play is also known for its twist ending, which at the end of every performance audience members and journalists are asked not to reveal.
In addition to holding the Guinness Book of World Records title for longest-running play, Christie ranks third in all-time literary sales behind only the Bible and William Shakespeare. To add a little spooky into the mix, Christie was herself part of a real-life unsolved mystery when she disappeared for 11 days in 1926 after discovering her husband was having an affair. She was eventually discovered as a guest at the Old Swan Hotel in Yorkshire, registered under the name of Mrs. Teresa Neele of Cape Town, South Africa. Christie had no recollection of what had transpired over the 11 days, but doctors suspected she suffered an acute nervous breakdown that accounted for the temporary memory loss. Although it's purely speculative on my part, perhaps those memories subconsciously found their way into the plot of "The Mousetrap."
Although today Christie's framework might seem clichd, it is Christie copycats who have made it so over the past 80 years. Her mystery revolves around eight guests who are snowed in at a wealthy British manor. One by one they arrive and the topic of conversation turns to the recent murder of a woman in London.
Jennifer Rose (left) and Rose Roselinsky add to the mystery, and the fun, of getting caught in “The Mousetrap.”
I recently interviewed cast member Jennifer Rose about the upcoming production. Rose is a great lover of British plays and the culture in general. She directed Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" in September 2010, and portrayed Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" in November 2007, directed by Kristi Scott. Rose reunites with "The Mousetrap" director Kristi Scott in this ProArts production.
I asked why she's so drawn to British projects like "The Mousetrap."
"I love the concise language aspects of British English. It's fun because while it is a whole other culture, it is still a shared language. We don't have to wonder what the author intended, no translation is needed and we can hear that voice."
I commented that a proper British accent is difficult for some actors, yet it seems so easy for her.
"It's from years of watching 'Masterpiece Theater,' " she laughed. "Also I grew up in Washington State and Victoria was a mere boat ride away. Every year for my birthday, we would stay at the Empress Hotel and have high tea, but it is probably more influenced by BBC shows and Monty Python!"
Jennifer is co-starring with her husband, Chris Rose. I asked her what it is like to perform with a spouse.
"It's a wonderful way to spend more time with each other. It's creative and fun, even sharing the drive to the theater. There's much more quality time than just going out to dinner."
What both Jennifer and Chris Rose are most excited about is a Kihei theater. "I absolutely love that we now have theater in Kihei on a regular basis. That rocks!"
* ProArts Inc. presents "The Mousetrap," a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie Feb. 17 through March 4 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Directed by Kristi Scott, it features Rose Roselinsky, Dale Button, Mark Collmer, Jennifer Rose, Christopher Rose, Dylan Bode, Felicia Chernicki and Frances Tau'a. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Reserved seats for adults are $20, students 18 and younger are $15. Ask about the ProArts $15 Kama'aina Nights with valid Hawaii ID. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
ONO! Returns with February's "Happily Ever After??" at 6:30 p.m. Monday. By popular demand Lee and Beth Garrow return to present another St. Valentine's Day-themed ONO! with romantic comedy vignettes and song featuring many returning cast members from last year's "Couples." Performers include Ute Finch, Gracie Clark, Rueben Carrion, Dylan Bode, Sharleen Lagattuta, Alexis Dascoulias and Steven Dascoulias. Roses will be available with a $5 donation to Maui OnStage. The free ONO! performances are at the Historic Iao Theater every second Monday of the month. For more information about upcoming ONO! performances visit mauionstage.com.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents "The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chekhov at the school's Olinda campus, weekends Feb. 24 through March 4. The play follows an aristocratic Russian family and the family's well-known cherry orchard estate just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. The student cast includes Celina Bekins, Gabrielle Bega, Laura Mayron, Gregory Saydah, Zeb Mehring, Ryan Noufer, Carter Umetsu, Allie Moskow, Taka Tsutsui, Brendan Wilson, Wyatt West, Danielle Ferrer and Cassidy Ross, directed by Todd Van Amburgh.
* Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with one Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. on March 4. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for students. For tickets or more information call 573-1257.
Kamehameha Schools Maui Drama Club presents the musical review "What Are We Waiting For?" Feb. 24 through March 3. The drama club has put together a show that will feature vignettes from "Voices from the High School," "Yearbook," "Sammy Carducci's Guide to Women" and "Looking for Corky Johnson," along with songs from "Fame," "Anyone Can Whistle" and "Merrily We Roll Along." Director Alexis Dascoulias teams with choreographer Aly Cardinalli and musical director Tana Larson.
* Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus in Pukalani. Admission is free and reservations are not required.
Maui OnStage presents the timeless American classic "Grease" Feb. 24 through March 11. Book, music and lyrics are by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey; it is directed by New York guest director/choreographer Brian Swasey. The Maui ensemble features Eric Peterson, Jacqui Sherwood, Lia Krieg and Jerry Eiting.
* Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $40, $22 and $15. Dinner packages are available with Cafe' O'Lei and Bistro Casanova. For tickets or more information call the Maui OnStage box office at 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com.