By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Opening night of Theatre Palisades’ rendition of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” produced by Nona Hale and Sherry Croon, delights and delivers by keeping the intrigue alive till the end.
On August 30, the evening began in a festive fashion. Champagne flowed in the lobby as attendees gathered. Before the curtain even opened, the magic of the theater was palpable.
White lights sparkled against the backdrop of the theater curtains, a voice on the loudspeaker entertained with amusing audience instructions, and regulars at Pierson Playhouse’s opening nights gushed to each other how they love the interaction between the actors and the audience.
“I love this theater, it’s so cozy,” said Jean Sharp, a lifelong Palisadian since she was 8 years old.
The play, set in post-World War II England, opens to a newly married couple hosting for the first time. The couple soon comes to realize how little they know about their guests when they learn a murderer might be among them. Holed up near London during a snowstorm, unexpected visitors pop in, adding to the puzzle.
The play starts off strong with physical antics by Giles Ralston (Carl Meyer-Curtis) and his wife Mollie Ralston (Grace O’Neil) as he comes in from the snow to join her. O’Neil charms with her wholesome character and seemingly earnest efforts to make a go of their guest house for “7 gillies a week.” Both actors display impeccable timing.
Upon hearing a murderer is in the midst, veteran actors bring to life the colorful Mrs. Boyle (Peggy Flood) and understated Mr. Metcalf (Michael Bernstein), who initially arrive together after sharing a cab.
Soon Boyle is not happy with all this disruption, while young widow Miss Casewell (Yale grad, Antonia Czinger) further antagonizes her to get what she wants. It’s Metcalf who discovers the phone’s cut off.
Michael Coleman delivers strong acting chops playing dashing Detective Sergeant Trotter, who arrives in true winter fashion to save the day or save a life—whatever the situation may require.
Characters Mr. Wren (Benjamin Orf) and Mr. Paravicini (Mark Fields Davidson) break the tension with peak comedic performances. Mr. Paravicini receives loud laughs, as he whirls around the stage with a handlebar mustache and his lively mysterious personality. Mr. Wren brings comic relief with an imaginative performance and his keep-you-on-your-toes comings and goings.
“I like Mr. Wren, he is exciting to watch,” said Lynne Babbitt, who told the Post she’s a regular to Theatre Palisades and loves opening night. Babbitt donated flowers to the lobby for the evening.
Director Marc Antonio Pritchett has the ensemble cast moving and flowing effortlessly around the stage in a well-orchestrated and balanced manner.
One of the stars of the show is the set itself: Sherman Wayne and the team outdid themselves. Also, the costumes are exacting and in tune with all the characters’ personalities, thanks to June Lissandrello.
In true Agatha Christie fashion, intermission offers a chance for guests to vote on who they suspect as the murderer. At the end of the performance, votes are tallied and the winner is Palisadian Paul Nagle.
“I’m lucky and I’m luckier,” said Nagle, who guesses correctly and wins the draw. The prize is tickets to a future Theatre Palisades performance.
The wrap party took place in the belly of the theater downstairs. Special touches include Pimm’s Cup punch and Eton Mess dessert. Smiles abound as friendly attendees chat with the actors, their friends and neighbors.
Performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m, as well as Sundays at 2 p.m. through October 6. For tickets or more information, visit theatrepalisades.org.
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