WEEKEND: Port Angeles Community Players stage Agatha Christie 'whodunnit'
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Kate Carter
Christopher Wren (Jeremiah Paulsen) seeks to charm Monkswell Manor proprietress Mollie (Erin Henninger).

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Trap an assortment of people inside a country manor after a blizzard, and odd things occur.

Murder is only one of those things.

There is much carrying on, and a little skiing, in “The Mousetrap,” the Agatha Christie classic opening tonight at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse. In its three-week run, the show will take theatergoers into a maze — of dark intrigue and human nature.

“It's an interesting study of personalities,” and of what being trapped in a situation beyond one's control can do, said Nancy Beier, director of this “Mousetrap.”

Starring Ean and Erin Henninger as Monkswell Manor owners Giles and Mollie Ralston, this production is a historic one. It's the third “Mousetrap” staged by the Port Angeles Community Players, which is marking its 60th season. And, Beier noted, it parallels the production that has played continuously in London for six decades.

Based on Christie's short story “Three Blind Mice,” this tale is a delectable puzzle, said cast member Kathleen Balducci. She ought to know: Balducci played Mollie the ingenue in the Port Angeles Community Players' first “Mousetrap” 40 years ago and then directed the second one in 1996.

This time around, Beier noted, Balducci is the “marvelously unpleasant” Mrs. Boyle, the older woman who is pleased by absolutely nothing.

“I'm just awful,” Balducci acknowledged. “Somebody in the cast said, 'She needs to be killed.'”

Someone does face the end here — and there's a good twist as the play concludes, said Beier. She'll be asking theatergoers to stay mum on it after the lights come up.

In this latest “Mousetrap,” Jeremiah Paulsen is “hilarious,” Beier said, as Christopher Wren, the first guest to arrive at the manor. He behaves in peculiar ways, admits he is running away from something, but refuses to say what. He also claims his parents named him after the famed architect Wren.

Stephanie Gooch is Miss Casewell, an aloof woman who speaks offhandedly about horrific childhood experiences, while Richard Stephens portrays Mr. Paravicini, a guest who suddenly shows up saying his car has overturned in a snowdrift. He speaks with a foreign accent and wears makeup that makes him look artificially older.

Philip Young is the mysterious Army veteran Maj. Metcalf, and Chandler Wendeborn, who charmed audiences in “The Christmas Story” last December, plays Detective Sgt. Trotter, the policeman who says he's here to protect the manor guests from the murderer.

“It is fun to sit and see what the puzzle is,” said Balducci, adding that anyone could have done the deed. The Port Angeles Community Players like to do this kind of play in winter, she said. “It's like curling up with a good book.”

“Mousetrap” curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Tuesdays tonight through March 5 and 2 p.m. Sundays, this one through March 10. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students and children. For Tuesday performances, tickets can be reserved at regular prices, and any remaining seats will become available at the playhouse door for $6.

Ticket outlets include Odyssey Books, 114 W. Front St., and www.PAcommunityplayers.com. The playhouse is at 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd., and as ever, patrons can phone 360-457-0500 for details.

Last modified: February 21. 2013 4:47PM
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