The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

January 24, 2014

Agatha Christie's classic mystery presented at Joplin Little Theatre

JOPLIN, Mo. — Audiences are well acquainted with twist endings these days, Kevin Babbitt said. Whether it's the revelation of Kiser Soze in "The Usual Suspects" or Dr. Malcolm Crowe's earthly status in "The Sixth Sense," twist endings are commonplace.

That wasn't the case when "The Mousetrap" was first brought to the stage in 1952. The play's twist ending was so dramatic that audiences were shocked, and ticket-holders were asked to not reveal the identity of the murderer.

That tradition will hold true for audiences in Joplin, said Babbitt, director of Joplin Little Theatre's production of "The Mousetrap."

"Back then, it was out of the norm for a murder mystery to do what this play did," Babbitt said. "It violated audience expectations at the time. But I don't know that it will be such a shock to modern audiences."

Written by murder queen Agatha Christie, the play has run continuously in London's West End since its debut in 1952. This is the first time it will be performed by Joplin Little Theatre, Babbitt said.

The story is about several people stranded in a boarding house during a snowstorm. As the curious characters clash, a policeman arrives on skis, in pursuit of a murderer hiding amongst them. And once the officer arrives, more people die.

The play's details are crafted brilliantly, said Babbitt, a long-time fan of Christie's literary work. While the ending is a surprise, it features Christie's deft handling of clues and characters.

"The ending still makes sense," Babbitt said. "(Christie) really is skillful at creating multiple characters who could believably be the killer then narrowing it down to one."

Babbitt's cast includes theater veterans and newcomers alike, including Kelsey Hale, Andrew Girouard, Jason Leggett, Kelly Purser, Richard H. Roberts, Sara Leggett, Ricardo Field and Zach Bradley.

The play runs from Wednesday, Jan. 29 to Sunday, Feb. 2. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $13, $11 for seniors and students.

Details: 417-623-3638.

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