Can you keep a secret? Bethany Area Repertory Theatre (BART) is performing Agatha Christie’s mystery “The Mousetrap” in a new, tucked-away location.
The community theater group has found a new home at Woodsong Country Inn & Retreat, near Frankford.
Having traditionally performed at Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville, BART is bidding the tiny theater a fond farewell to find a larger stage. The Woodsong bed-and-breakfast had room to spare and allows BART to have a summer season.
Performances of “The Mousetrap” will be held on Sept. 21, 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Sept. 24 at 2 p.m.
Woodsong Country Inn & Retreat is located at 37269 Dirickson Creek Road, Frankford. Performances will be in the left-hand building, beside the main house.
It might be the perfect location for a murder mystery set at a snowed-in guest house — England’s version of a B&B.
“The Mousetrap” drops audiences in the country manor house, where the characters realize there is a murderer in their midst. Suspicious characters hide their secrets and dodge suspicion until the gripping climax, when the culprit is discovered.
And for 65 years, audiences have been asked to keep the thrilling ending a secret.
The show is more of a mystery thriller than BART’s typical shows.
“BART has had a history of doing light comedies, sex farces — that type of thing. So this is a real departure,” said Director Charles McCloskey, adding that he is impressed with the way the cast has stepped up to perform the roles.
There are still plenty of laughs — although it’s a drier, British humor.
“The humor is in the raise of an eyebrow, rather than [pratfalls],” McCloskey said.
Having just moved to coastal Delaware fulltime, McCloskey was asked to direct the classic whodunit, which has been performed continuously in London’s West End since 1952.
McCloskey actually compared the show’s theme to films such as “Alien.”
“There is a confined place from which you cannot escape … and the question is, ‘What do you do?’” he said. “People are dying, and we don’t know why.”
Throughout the play, lead character Mollie is the schoolteacher-turned-innkeeper who just inherited the manor house and is trying to build a business, while keeping her guests alive.
“The thing that I really like about Mollie is — especially in the time of this show [the 1950s] — she’s definitely a woman beyond her years, both in how she works in business and leads that effort and is just not afraid to speak her mind. … It’s a fun role for sure. This is not a normal type of role for me, so I’m enjoying it,” said Lisa Condon, who plays Mollie. “Everyone else around her is a whirling dervish, and she’s just a normal one through all of this.”
“The big moment is the reveal,” McCloskey said. “I think the audiences will be amused by that because, in general, Miss Christie did a good job of hiding the evil person in the first … three-quarters of the show.”
A new countryside venue
Woodsong Country Inn rests on a quiet back road, around the corner from the Assawoman Wildlife Area and Camp Barnes, near Ocean View and Roxana.
“It’s such a beautiful location. It’s off the beaten path,” said Condon, who does marketing for Woodsong and helped build the BART partnership. “It gives them a location [where] they can be all throughout rehearsals. They can build their own sets for the first time and have that fuller creative vision.”
BART had a great run at Dickens Parlour Theatre, said playwright Bob Davis.
“It was wonderful, and it built BART from nothing in four-and-a-half years to a really nice, solid little community theater,” Davis said. “I’m really happy because it’s a dream fulfilled.”
But it was tough to rehearse off-site, and to pack up sets in between magic performances there.
“We have a really nice following now, and we hope people follow us down there” to Woodsong, Davis said. “We’re hoping it becomes a permanent home.”
Meanwhile, Woodsong fulfills its own dream of becoming an event location.
“It brings more creative life to the property on an ongoing basis,” Condon said.
Shows will be performed with lounge-style seating at round tables.
“They can have a drink and have food while they’re watching … so it just gives it a more comfy, relaxed atmosphere,” Condon said.
Audiences should bring cash to purchase snacks, beer, wine or other beverages.
Tickets for “The Moustrap” cost $25 each. After expenses, remaining funds are donated as college scholarships for local arts students. For Bethany Area Repertory Theatre (BART) tickets or show information, visit www.BARTinBethany.com, or call (302) 278-9227.