Having just celebrated Agatha Christie’s 126th birthday, we wanted to share a few secrets (no, not that one!) about one of her most famous plays.
The Mousetrap is currently playing at St. Martin’s Theatre. The West End production has been running for 64 years; initially at the Ambassadors Theatre, before transferring overnight and moving next door in 1974. Just a few weeks ago we took our Minimasters on a special adventure behind the scenes, where we found out some pretty cool stuff about the play’s history – although, even then, we weren’t allowed to find out the biggest secret of them all – who the murderer is – for that is part of The Mousetrap’s legacy, keeping the secret a secret.
Here we round up our favourite facts about The Mousetrap.
A change of name
The original title of the play was Three Blind Mice before it was adapted for the stage. Queen Mary requested a radio play to be written by Agatha Christie for her 80th birthday in 1947, which was broadcast as Three Blind Mice – although never published as a book. Later, this became The Mousetrap, which went on to become the world’s longest running play.
The rights stuff
Agatha Christie donated the rights for The Mousetrap to her grandson, Matthew Prichard, for his seventh birthday. This included rights to a movie version, which were sold on in 1956; however, the sale included the stipulation that a film could not be released until six months after the play had come off the stage – and there’s no sign of the The Mousetrap slowing down yet.
Night after night after night
There have been over 26,000 performances of The Mousetrap since its first staging in 1952 and the number of the current performance is proudly displayed daily in the theatre’s foyer. The show celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary Performance at St. Martin’s Theatre on 25 November 2002.
Hundreds of actors
There have been over 400 actors that have starred in the play since it opened. The cast is renewed each year, with the same cast performing together for a whole run before being replaced for a fresh look and feel. For The Mousetrap’s first performance in London, Sir Richard Attenborough made an appearance alongside his wife Sheila.
A real record breaker
In 1957, legendary playwright Noel Coward sent Agatha Christie a congratulatory telegram when The Mousetrap officially became the longest-running “straight play” in the West End – a record it retains to this day. The letter was discovered in 2011 by a furniture restorer in the back of a 18th Century desk. It read, “Much as it pains me, I really must congratulate you on The Mousetrap breaking the long-run record. All my good wishes. Noel Coward”.
Antique props and their perfect uses
The wind machine still used in the show today is the very same one that has been used since the play opened in 1952. It’s made of a piece of carpet on a crank which makes the sound of whorls of icy air whenever it is turned; the faster the machine is cranked the more ferocious and deadly the wind sounds. Meanwhile, on stage, the small clock on the mantelpiece has been in pride of place since the first performance and remains are crucial piece of the set night-after-night.
Want to discover the secrets of The Mousetrap for yourself? You can by getting tickets now at Ticketmaster.co.uk – but remember, when you’ve learned the biggest secret of all, you have to keep it.