Students prepare for production of ‘Mouse Trap’

By By Luke Frentsos, Sports Photo Editor

CHS has a rich tradition of performing fantastic, critically acclaimed plays.  The drama department will continue its tradition when it performs Agatha Christie’s most famous play, The Mouse Trap, February 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.
The play will have two separate casts, each performing on Friday and then combining for the Saturday performances.
Christie, a famous British crime writer, wrote 80 mystery and suspense novels.  She is tied with Shakespeare as the best-selling author of any kind of genre. Christie was also the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award.  However, she only wrote 11 plays.  The Mouse Trap holds the record for the longest initial run, where it has run for 58 years and had 23,000 performances since November 1952.
“The Mouse Trap is a murder mystery [that] also has elements of comedy and suspense,” drama teacher and director Jessica Speck said.
The play details the events of Sergeant Trotter, a detective trying to catch a murderer who had killed someone in the area.  The play takes place in a snowed-in country inn, where eight people, including Trotter, are trapped.  Trotter comes to the cabin, acting on a tip that someone in that cabin would be murdered, and tries to uncover the mystery of the murderer.
Speck chose a mystery play because she wanted to expose all students to different genres of theatre.  It appealed to many students, as auditions had a large turnout.
According to junior Neil Suttora, who plays Major Metcalf, all the students auditioned by doing cold readings from scenes in the play.  A cold reading is when students read sections of the play they have never seen before.
However, because The Mouse Trap takes place in England, there are some other aspects to acting that students needed during auditions.
“I reviewed the British dialect because every character in this show has an English accent,” said senior Laura Butvinik, who plays Sergeant Trotter.  “I knew that this would definitely be one of the hardest aspects of the audition for me.”
Speck casted all the roles based on the auditions, in which Butvinik and sophomore Alex Bankier claimed the lead role of Sergeant Trotter.
“I look for actors who make strong, distinct character choices that make them stand out from the crowd and [who] can utilize proper acting techniques for their voice and physical use of the stage,” Speck said.  “I made two separate casts so there would be more opportunity for the actors.”
Because of other events in the performing arts department such as Churchill’s Got Talent and Scene Fest, the cast has not had the opportunity for many rehearsals, but this has not stunted the play’s progress.
“We have been working on understanding our unique characters and have begun rehearsing and blocking scenes,” Butvinik said.
The strong chemistry between the actors and crew will help contribute to a strong performance.
“I think there is a great dynamic between all of the cast and crew,” Butvinik said.  “Most of us have been working together in drama for the last few years and work together really well. We have a lot of fun together inside and outside of rehearsal, but we all know how to work and rehearse well together. I think the great chemistry between everyone will definitely show in the final performance.”
With a play like The Mouse Trap, a group of skilled actors and good chemistry, CHS can look forward to a fantastic play this February.
“We are all very excited about the progress and anticipate a great production,” Speck said.