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Murder and mystery in Denfeld's 'Mousetrap'

Denfeld senior Kong Xiong, sophomore Nelson Wennberg and freshman Katelyn Mayne rehearse a scene from the spring production of The Mousetrap in the Denfeld auditorium. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)1 / 2
Denfeld sophomores Charleigh Frederick and Jeremiah Larson play Mollie and Giles Ralston in the spring production of Agatha Christies's "The Mousetrap." (Photo by Teri Cadeau)2 / 2

Denfeld students are getting a taste of murder, mystery and mayhem in their spring production of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap."

The snow is falling around Monkswell Manor, but the body count keeps rising. Mollie and Giles Ralston, played by sophomores Charleigh Frederick and Jeremiah Larson, operate the manor as a guest house after Mollie's aunt's death. There's been a string of murders in the area and the guests find themselves snowed in at the manor. Each character is a suspect.

"Everyone's kind of suspecting each other to be the killer. And it starts to turn up the drama and exciting things start to happen," said senior Kong Xiong, who plays Mr. Paravicini in the show.

"The Mousetrap" opened in London's West End in 1952 and has been running continuously ever since. It has by far the longest initial run of any play in history.

"My hope was to do a murder mystery," said director Matthew Pursi. "It's a really great genre, but there aren't a lot of great scripts that are not cheesy. We want something to draw our audiences in and keep them guessing. This show does that supremely well."

The students have been working on the show for about seven weeks, including two rehearsals during spring break. All of the cast and crew have chipped to help build the set.

"Everyone helps out and does what they can," Larson said.

One of the items that took the longest to make were the rocks on the archways and above the fireplace.

"They're made from this pink styrofoam stuff that we cut and shaved into rock shapes," Xiong said. "It was tedious and long, but also a fun experience. You'd end up with pink shavings of styrofoam all over your body and across the floor."

"There may have been a pink styrofoam fight at one point," Larson added.

Director Matthew Pursi confirms this.

"I left the room for a minute and come back to find them all covered in pink!" Pursi said.

Despite the hijinks, the eight-member cast had to buckle down and further develop their acting skills for this show. Pursi said the challenge lies in revealing just enough subtle information for the audience.

"You want the clues to be apparent to the back row but not so obvious that it's cheesy to the front row," Pursi said.

The play is known for its twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theater. Frederick said she "had no idea who did it until the last scene."

"It's a real mystery and that's been a lot of fun to play," Frederick said.

Performances of "The Mousetrap" start at 7 p.m. May 4 and run nightly until May 6. Tickets are $8 for general admission and sold at the door of the Denfeld Auditorium. For more information call (218) 336-8830, ext. 1028. The show may not be suitable for children under 10.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176