Valeria Peterson and Daniel Azcarate

A young couple, a foreigner, an eccentric young man, an army major, a couple of mysterious women, and a murderer on the loose. Together with a peculiar band, they made up the characters of The Mousetrap, produced by Justice High School. 

In a play by the writer Agatha Christie, a bizarre array of guests at a British countryside inn were suddenly confined in a guesthouse together during a snowstorm while a murderer was hunted down. What ensued was a gripping and twisted tale that showcased insanity and revenge at their worst.

The show boasted a playfully energetic cast. While each character contributed to the tension of the mystery with admirable intent, there were a few members of the cast who created truly remarkable presentations.

The exuberant Mr. Paravicini, played by Valeria Peterson, showcased exceptional comedic timing along with a charming Italian accent. In striking contrast, the mysterious Miss Casewell, played by Sofia Hemmens, displayed an exquisite and nuanced array of facial expressions and a sharp stride. Hemmens’ character choices were perfectly suited for the thrilling nature of a murder mystery and were imperative in retaining the show’s suspense and wit. Detective Sergeant Trotter, played by Daniel Azcarate, undoubtedly rounded out the cast. Throughout the show, Azcarate’s character remained strong and consistent. As the show ran along with drama, Azcarate had increasingly distinctive moments to highlight brilliant and emotional outbursts that made the show.

Though all the actors’ performances should be applauded for their efforts and skill, Sara Kaufman, who played Mollie Ralston, managed to vigorously distinguish herself from the cast. Kaufman brought a down-to-earth kindhearted nature to her character. Kaufman’s presentation of Mollie was a testament to the natural variation present in unique human interactions between different people. Ralston’s self-assurance yet kindness demanded the attention of the audience. The nuances to Kaufman’s performance are an indicator of both an excellent character and an excellent actor. 

Still, the subliminal finishing touch of the show that united the production was the lighting design. The lighting was designed by Ketan Kane and Henry Blaine, who must be praised due to the spectacular scenes they helped create. Overall, the lighting made no compromise of quality to the show. The lighting team was responsible for the overhead lights that shone brightly during the day and slowly darkened at night. During the first dramatic sequence, the lights flashed to a low red before cutting out completely to fit within the established tone. To segue to the radio portions of the show, the lighting designers used warm golden spotlights that instantly transported the audience back to a golden era in time. 

When Agatha Christie wrote The Mousetrap, she predicted it would run for only a couple of months. Instead, it became the longest-running play in the world, running continuously from 1952 to 2020. Much like the original run of The Mousetrap, Justice High School’s production is a triumph of remarkable acting amidst a season of audience members’ returns to live theatre. Enthralling and hysterical, it was a spectacle to behold and surely left the audience gripping their armrests, as they sat on the edge of their seats.

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