• December 21, 2014

Murder-mystery takes center stage at VLA

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Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 4:30 am

Emma Roddy’s eyes sparkled as she described the set and costumes onstage at Vive Les Arts Theatre. “It’s really like England in the 1950s,” she said proudly.

With local actors in full dress, reciting their lines with a proper British accent, Agatha Christie’s magnum opus, “The Mousetrap,” came to life at Monday’s rehearsal.

Roddy, a junior at Baylor University, is costume mistress for the play, and was brought in with director John Sefel at the last minute.

“It’s unique to come in less than 24 hours before rehearsal,” Sefel said, “but the common enemy — lack of time — really brought cast and crew together.”

Described by Sefel as a “very tight” production with no cuts in the script, the eight actors in the ensemble seemed to have triumphed over the

demanding dialogue — with five nights until opening, lines were secure and no scripts were seen. VLA’s veteran stage manager Shawn Garris moved about the auditorium making minor adjustments as the cast ran through the two-act drama.

“The Mousetrap” is a murder-mystery that opened in London in 1952. With a staggering 25,000 performances as of November 2012, it’s the longest-running show of modern times. Famous for its twist ending, which audiences are traditionally asked not to reveal, “Mousetrap” upends the traditional whodunnit formula.

Ellen Falterman, a sophomore at Central Texas College, plays Mollie Ralston, owner with her husband of the hotel in which the play’s two acts are set. A newbie to VLA, Falterman describes the experience as “very welcoming and very professional.”

“This is the best set I’ve ever worked on,” she said.

In the wings, poised with her notebook and clipboard, sat Lizzi Covert, assistant stage manager. “We have one understudy for this show, Abbie Sala, who will also play Mr. Paravicini in the (Killeen Independent School District) performance.”

The man of mystery in “Mousetrap,” Paravicini seems to be faking a foreign accent and is artificially aged by use of makeup. Jonathan Spear, a VLA veteran, plays the role in all other shows.

Heather Holt and Miles Boch, both from Killeen, join Andrew Lauck, of Harker Heights, as part of the company.

“Mousetrap” is a true ensemble show, with no starring role.

Covert touted the cooperation between cast, crew and director: “It’s really coming together in a good way.”

As the house lights dimmed for the second act, Sefel summed up his experience. “With hardly enough time and lots of VLA newbies, they’ve all worked hard and put together a great show.”

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