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Interview: Freefall Stage Talks About THE MOUSETRAP, Plays vs. Musicals, and Being Excellent

The Mousetrap Plays Through November 20

Interview: Freefall Stage Talks About THE MOUSETRAP, Plays vs. Musicals, and Being Excellent

A cozy parlor, a warm hearth, an inviting inn...what could possibly go wrong when seven strangers gather to seek refuge from a storm? Come find out in Freefall Stage's production of Dame Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. Known as the world's longest-running play, it has run in London's West End continuously since 1952, only halting temporarily due to Covid restrictions.

Featuring a refined set by Tom Colburn and costumes by Tana Aivaz Colburn, this show will transport you to 1950s England and into the mind of the Queen of Crime. Adding to the mystique are performances by talented local actors such as Ronnie Duska Fowler as the dry and sour Miss Casewell, Bender Kynaston as the "odd young man" Christopher Wren, Jay Collins-Patrick playing the Il Dottore-esque Mr. Paravicini, and Gillian Rains in the role of the timid and subdued Mollie Ralston.

Now housed in the intimate theatre of Epic Bible College, Freefall Stage prides itself on its artistic integrity and professional quality. Indeed, its staff welcomes all into its nucleus without reservation, willing to teach and be taught and expand its family to the entire theatrical community. As such, Broadway World had the pleasure of speaking with some of Freefall's core members about The Mousetrap, plays vs. musicals, and what makes this group so special.

Freefall Stage is one of the few community theatres in the area to focus strictly on plays. What draws you to this medium as opposed to musicals?

Deanne Farinha Eldridge, CEO/Founder: The simple answer is that there are too many stories I want to tell! The longer answer is that I see theatre as a medium to explore and express ideas and topics that get people thinking and talking about the world around them and do so in a way that no other medium can. The more personal the theatrical setting, the more personal the story can be received by our audience. Yes, theatre is entertainment, but from its inception, it is so much more. From plays about real people (Beams are Creaking) to plays that open our eyes to the world around us and prompt us into action (She Has a Name), these are the kinds of stories that are our heartbeat at Freefall Stage.

How has post-pandemic participation been? Do you find it more difficult to bring in actors and an audience?

Emma Eldridge, Chief Marketing Officer/Stage Manager: From an actor participation perspective, we've been purposefully choosing scripts with smaller casts (until Twelfth Night last September, which had a cast of 13). In addition, up until this past June, we were doing invite-only auditions, with actors we knew and who had expressed that they were ready to perform again. In the last few months, we've seen things pretty much back to the way they were prior to the lockdowns. After almost 3 years, actors are more and more anxious to get back to performing.

Regarding audiences, things have continued to pick up. When we started back in the summer of 2021, attendance was a bit slow but has continually increased as time has gone on. It's seemed to ebb and flow based on infection rates but, in recent months, we can see more and more folks coming out and eager to attend live theatre.

The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in history. What drew you to this show?

Brennan Villados, Director: The simple answer is: who doesn't love a murder mystery? And who does a murder mystery better than Agatha Christie? I find something eternally alluring about a puzzle, and a puzzle that plays out before you live makes it all the sweeter. Plus, if we get to play a small part in the lineage of the show, all the better.

D. Eldridge: Agatha Christie is my favorite mystery author and I hope to produce more of her works on the stage. The Mousetrap is her most well-known play. We have produced a few of her other writings and knew we had to include this one!

Please tell us about your cast for The Mousetrap.

Villados: Oh, what can I say about this cast that wouldn't sound like hyperbole? They are a cohesive and tremendous group of performers. They are so supportive and in sync with one another that it's a marvel to watch.

What sets Freefall apart from other community theatres?

D. Eldridge: We have a reputation for excellence in every aspect of our productions. We have set a very high bar for community theatre. Those who patronize our productions expect that. We are not an official professional theatre but the professional quality, from our website to our sets, costumes, and the quality of our acting, is expected of us and we somehow manage to do so on a shoestring budget! Though we do produce modern works, we are known for our period pieces and timeless classics. We have brought many beloved novels to the stage and are always on the lookout to adapt and produce classics as well as not-so-well-known stories.

This tantalizing production of The Mousetrap plays at Freefall Stage through November 20. Can you guess whodunit before the curtain falls on the shocking finale? Remember, when you leave the theatre, you mustn't share the answer!

Tickets may be found at Freefallstage.com, by calling (916) 207-4420, or in person at Epic Bible College at 4330 Auburn Blvd. in Sacramento.

Photo Credit: Emma Eldridge



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