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Murder mystery at ALT

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Matthew Van Wettering is Christopher Wren and Sarah Daum is Miss Casewell in “The Mousetrap.” (Courtesy of Nick Tapia)

Matthew Van Wettering is Christopher Wren and Sarah Daum is Miss Casewell in “The Mousetrap.” (Courtesy of Nick Tapia)

Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” is in a theater world all its own.

The whodunit murder mystery opened in London’s West End in 1952. Today, more than 25,000 performances later, you can still see it there, making it the longest-running play.

The Albuquerque Little Theatre’s production of “The Mousetrap” opens Friday, Jan. 24 and will have a considerably shorter run. It will be staged through Feb. 9.

Vic Browder, the director for the ALT production and who had directed “Dial M for Murder,” acknowledged that murder mysteries are their own style of theater.

“It’s not that different than doing any other show. You get to tell the story,” Browder said. “But it’s not like you’re doing Neil Simon or Shakespeare.”

“The Mousetrap” is set in a snowbound boarding house in rural England. There are eight characters – five guests, the couple who run the guesthouse and a police detective. All are murder suspects.

Sarah Daum portrays Miss Casewell, who is one of the guests.

“My character is someone who is trying to solve a mystery of her own. She’s conducting a personal investigation into her family history,” Daum said. “She doesn’t want anyone to know what she’s doing and why she’s there.”

Daum described her character as somewhat hard-boiled, a person who doesn’t tolerate sentimentality.

Another guest is Christopher Wren, played by Matthew Van Wettering.

“He’s a very free-spirited and eccentric person,” Van Wettering said of Wren. “I think he finds a connection with the other characters. He’s personable.”

Van Wettering said he wanted the role.

“Wren’s main objective is to have fun and that I can definitely identify with,” he said.

Browder said after he was invited to direct the play, he read the script and fell in love with it “because the writing is so good and there are great characters. I’m a character-based director.”

He thinks it’s a challenge to maintain the suspense going for two hours before the murderer is identified.

“In keeping the suspense, there’s the guessing – Is it him? Is it her? Is it this person? That’s why the character work is so important,” he said.

The other characters are Sgt. Trotter (Brian Haney), Mrs. Boyle (Carolyn Hogan), Mr. Paravicini (Miguel Martinez), Maj. Metcalf (Stephen Zamora), and the Ralstons (Kristine Cornils and Tim Riley), the couple running the boarding house.

Traditionally, audiences seeing “The Mousetrap” are asked not to reveal the outcome after leaving the theater.

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