I produced The Mousetrap about four years ago as my first play in a new school. It was an ideal show as i didn't really know my casting pool or technical capabilities yet, but with one set and a small ensemble cast the show didn't provide a lot of challenges. I know the plot is riddled with holes (all those people HAPPEN to be at the same guest house at the same time? How does Trotter not recognize his own sister? How is young newlywed Molly old enough to have been Trotter's teacher?) but the piece is incredibly well paced and there's a lightness and a momentum to it that makes it work in spite of the plot holes. It's creates a lovely atmosphere and if you have a cast that clips along, the audience never really has time to ponder the plot holes.
* Put your strongest actor in the role of Trotter as he really has to carry the momentum of the play from the middle of the first act to the end. It's a big line load and it's a lot of exposition. The remaining roles are pretty evenly distributed.
* Throughout the dress rehearsals I kept having people figure out the killer from watching the mostly-in-the-dark murder scene. I thought it was because the scene was too well lit and I kept making it darker and darker. Turned out test audiences recognized the actor's footfall. The sound of his shoes. So I had him slip his shoes off for the scene and perform it in his stocking feet and suddenly no one figured out it was him!
* The period skis and ski boots are the hardest prop to find but not impossible. Also the accents were a bit of a challenge, but we spent some time on them.
* My actors really picked up on the subtly coded LGBTQ characters in the play (Miss Casewell and Christopher Wren) and liked that they were treated sympathetically (neither the killer nor the victim). Surprising added bonus!
I've included a few photos from our production. Break a leg!
I love the murder mysteries on Pioneer Drama as well! We've done WCKY, Murderous Night at the Museum, Murder on the Orient Express, The Groom Has Cold Feet, and A Family Reunion to Die For. All are very fun and have different crazy stereotypical characters that my students really enjoyed playing!