Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap commemorates its 60th anniversary with star-studded show
When The Mousetrap premiered in London in 1952, the play’s author, Agatha Christie, predicted that its run would only last eight months.
However, some 60 years later a consequence of its phenomenal success occured that would have flabbergasted even the Queen of Crime herself. , On 18th November 2012 the famous whodunnit marked its 25,000th performance in its 60th year with a star-studded one-off show featuring Hugh Bonneville, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters and Miranda Hart.
The Mousetrap has been the longest-running show in British theatre history since 1958 and the longest-running play in the world since the mid-1970s, but it shows no signs of losing its popularity.
Audiences eager to learn the well-kept secret of the play’s twist still pack into St Martin’s Theatre in London eight times a week, licensed productions around the globe are setting their own records, and the first UK tour which started in September is playing to full houses.
Sunday night’s special staged reading was introduced by Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, who was given the royalties from the play by his grandmother for his ninth birthday. A truly fantastic gift and just like a pension annuity is something which could provide him with an income for life.
Bonneville, played Giles Ralston, the owner of the snowed-in guesthouse where the action takes place, with Tamsin Greig as his wife Mollie.
Stewart, one of the finest Shakespearean actors of his time, although best known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, took the part of Mr Paravicini, a mysterious guest at the hotel.
Walters played Mrs Boyle and Hart appeared as Miss Casewell, fellow guests who become caught up in the murder mystery.
The Mousetrap began life in 1947 as a short radio play called Three Blind Mice. It was written as a Birthday gift from the BBC to Queen Mary. It took its current name, which is originated from Hamlet, when it moved to the stage, makings its world début at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal on October 2 1952.
It began its West End run on November 25 1952 with Lord Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim in the leading roles.
Ever since the opening night, each performance has finished with the audience being sworn to secrecy asked not to tell anyone the identity of the murderer.
One of the actors says at the end of the play: “Now you have seen The Mousetrap you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunit locked in your hearts.”
Lord Attenborough delivered this speech again at a 50th anniversary performance attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2002.
The Mousetrap opened in the West End at the Ambassadors Theatre and played there for 21 years before moving to St Martin's Theatre next door in 1973 without missing a show. A enduring monument to Christie was unveiled at nearby St Martin's Cross before Sunday night’s show, which was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whose films include Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady.
All proceeds from the sell-out performance went towards Mousetrap Theatre Projects, an education charity which receives funding from the play.