MARYSVILLE — The drama club at Grace Academy spent more than four months preparing for its performance of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mouse Trap’ — the play that would also be the last for drama teacher and director Phyllis Rice, who retires at the end of the school year.
The Mouse Trap is a murder mystery set in 1950s Britain, the era in which it was written. It has been running continuously since 1952 and is the longest running play in history. Grace Academy ran the play in the gymnasium from May 2-4 at 7 p.m.
Grace Academy held auditions before the Christmas break, and began rehearsing in February.
“It is always a privilege to direct a play,” said Rice. “I really enjoy working with the kids. They always give 110 percent on every project. I love to see them grow as actors.”
In The Mouse Trap, a murder occurs in London, while a young couple, Mollie and Giles Ralston, are running a guesthouse in a nearby town. Four initial guests arrive — Christopher Wren, Mrs. Boyle, Major Metcalf and Miss Casewell — each with their own distinct personalities. Eventually Mr. Paravicini arrives, claiming to have stalled his car in a snowdrift. Finally, Detective Sergeant Trotter skis through the heavy snowfall to save the guests and hosts from the murderer. A series of unusual situations occur, in which each character lets more of their personality show, while Sergeant Trotter attempts to complete an investigation to determine why the murderer is targeting the guesthouse. A twist ending reveals the murderer, and audiences have been asked to keep the secret for decades so that the surprise is never spoiled for new viewers.
Senior Josiah Lugg was cast as Sergeant Trotter.
“I think we all did real well,” he said of the performances. “I was glad with what the rest of the cast did.”
Lugg noted that the biggest challenge is fighting the instinct to be lazy.
“For me it’s just battling my own laziness and getting the job done,” he said. “Other than that, it was just staying persistent. I am definitely a lot better than when I started four years ago. I learned to be able to be a better character and stay in character for the whole play.”
Olivia Erickson, a junior, was cast as Mrs. Boyle, a very harsh older woman who stays at the guesthouse.
“Mouse Trap was great,” she said. “Our cast was great and we have the most wonderful director. I worked with her on Harvey and Anne of Green Gables and she helps us so much. She is just amazing, patient and holds us to the highest standard.”
Erickson said she is going to miss Rice after Rice retires and moves to Louisiana to spend more time with her family.
“It was bittersweet working on this play because it was her last year,” said Erickson. “She is an amazing woman and a great leader.”
“I am so very thankful that we had Mrs. Rice as our director,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity to work with someone as talented as she is. We are all going to miss her.”
The sentiment of her students is something that Rice wholeheartedly returned.
“I will miss the kids a lot,” she said. “I’m extremely thankful to the Lord. It’s been a real privilege and joy to work here.”