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The Mousetrap 60 Years and Still Going Strong
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has kept audiences guessing for six decades. It celebrated its 60th birthday, our Diamond Anniversary, in November 2012 and this world record breaking production continues to attract audiences to the St. Martin's Theatre from every corner of the globe. In her own inimitable style, Dame Agatha Christie has created an atmosphere of shuddering suspense and a brilliantly intricate plot where murder lurks around every corner.
The Mousetrap first entered the record books many years ago on 12th April 1958 when it became the longest running show of any kind in the history of British Theatre.
During the phenomenal 60 year run there have been no fewer than 382 actors and actresses appearing in the play, 116 miles of shirts have been ironed and over 415 tons of ice cream sold. Some cast members are in the Guinness Book of Records - David Raven as the 'Most Durable Actor' for 4575 performances as Major Metcalf and the late Nancy Seabrooke for a record breaking 15 years as an understudy. And for the last 38 years, St Martin's Theatre has been the home of The Mousetrap - more than half of its record breaking run!
The Mousetrap is a terrific adaptation of one of the most celebrated novels of Agatha Christie, the formidable crime novelist and playwright who was born in the photogenic English Riviera resort of Torquay in 1890. She has been cited as the best-selling novelist in history, with around two billion books sold across the world.
Agatha published her first title, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920, and was the recipient of the coveted Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America in 1955. In the 1920s, she travelled the world, and credits Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen and English novelist Graham Greene as some of her key influences.
The murder mystery is set in the imposing Great Hall of Monkswell Manor, following a terrifying murder in Paddington. Here, Mollie and Giles Ralston are administering the finishing touches for the opening of the hall, which will be their new guest house. However, as the story progress, links appear between the murder and the manor, which spooks Mollie and Giles, who find themselves stranded in a snowstorm with a mysterious set of guests.
Beginning in 1952, it is the longest-running play in West End history, celebrating its 25,000th performance 50 years later. During its time, The Mousetrap has been performed by more than 400 actors and actresses, and has used so much clothing that all the material used could, theoretically, stretch from West End to France, were it all bound together. Technically, this means that, between 1952 and 2002, the show was played an average of 1-2 times every day, representing tens of thousands of hours of live performances.
The Mousetrap was originally held at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, and moved to several locations in the country, including the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, the New Theatre in Oxford, and other venues in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham. It moved to St Martin's Theatre in March 1974, which has a capacity of 550 and is one of the most attractive theatres in the West End. This Grade II listed Building was completed during the First World War, and is famous for hosting the popular Edwardian-themed musical comedy Houp La!, which was produced from 1916 to 1917.
For the show's 60th anniversary, the team organised a special Gala to raise money for the Mousetrap Theatre Projects, which provides opportunities for young people to attend the theatre by working with other arts and educational organisations.
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