AGATHA CHRISTIE''S THE MOUSETRAP REACHES 55 YEARS

Tuesday 28 November 2006

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Mousetrap into 55th year...and don''t ask Whodunnit?
The producer of Agatha Christie''s thriller The Mousetrap, predicted on Monday that the world''s longest running play would never close.

As the classic whodunnit embarked on its 55th year, current producer Stephen Waley-Cohen said he couldn''t see an end in sight for the popular London tourist draw.

"On first night Agatha Christie said she thought it might get a nice little run. Now it''s an institution," he said.

"I don''t see why it shouldn''t run forever."

London theater audiences are notoriously fickle but he told Reuters that the Mousetrap has never suffered at the box office.

"We have not had a losing week in 55 years. Half the audience are British, a quarter are American and the rest come from around the world."

The play, which traditionally ends every night with theatergoers being urged not to tell anyone who the killer is, boasts three Guinness World Records.

As well as enjoying "the longest continuous run of any show in the world," it also lays claim to the world''s most durable actor - David Raven played the role of Major Metcalfe for 4,575 performances.

Nancy Seabrooke is the world''s longest-serving understudy - for 6,240 performances over 15 years. She would sit in the wings patiently doing embroidery and crochet.

Christie gave the stage rights to her grandson Mathew Prichard on his ninth birthday. She died in 1976.

"It has survived because it is a bloody good play," said Oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough who was the play''s first star along with his wife Sheila Sim.

The play was originally called "Three Blind Mice" and was written by Agatha Christie in 1947 as a 30-minute radio play to celebrate the then Queen Mary''s 80th birthday.

To mark its first 50 years in London''s West End, Queen Elizabeth went in 2002 to see the play which opened in the year she acceded to the throne.

One item still remains from the 1952 set - the clock on the mantelpiece has now survived over 22,500 performances. The revolver from the original production is now in London''s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Two British producers bought the film rights for 5,000 pounds on condition that they could not make the movie until six months after the theater production closed. The play has long since outlived them.

Book tickets for The Mousetrap

[source: Reuters]

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