After a 70-Year Run in London, ‘The Mousetrap’ Heads to Broadway
For the past 70 years, London theatergoers have enjoyed trying to figure out the identity of the murderer in “The Mousetrap,” Agatha Christie’s enduring whodunit.
Now, Broadway audiences will get a chance to try to solve it.
On Friday, keen-eyed theatergoers discovered a website for the Broadway iteration, which announced that the murder mystery, whose London production holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest-running play, would make its Broadway debut some time in 2023.
The website did not give details about the run’s start date, location or cast, but said the production’s set would be “a loving recreation” of the chintzy West End design and even borrow its wind machine, which is used to create a storm.
On Friday, Adam Spiegel, the show’s British producer, confirmed the transfer of the show in a telephone interview from St. Martin’s Theater in London, where he was hosting a special matinee of “The Mousetrap” to celebrate its 70th birthday.
Spiegel said he “was not ready” to provide any details of the Broadway run, but insisted it was going ahead. “Oh God, yes, it will happen in 2023,” he said.
He is producing the show with Kevin McCollum, the Tony Award-winning producer who recently helped take “Six,” the hit musical about the wives of Henry VIII, from London to Broadway.
It is unclear why “The Mousetrap,” which began as a radio play, has never reached Broadway before. For decades — even when it was merely middle-aged, and still far from becoming a septuagenarian — some critics have called it an anachronism, noting its old-fashioned staging, with creaking windows the closest thing to a special effect.
A New York production did open Off Broadway in 1960, at the Maidman Playhouse. “The Mousetrap will not exactly shake you up, but it neither will it let you down,” Lewis Funke wrote in The New York Times. But it never moved to Broadway.
The original 1952 production starred Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim, who were married. All told, the show has been performed over 28,915 times in London, the production said today in a news release, and has been seen by over 10 million people. Queen Elizabeth II attended its 50th anniversary performance in 2002.
A decade ago, when the show was celebrating its 60th anniversary, Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times that seeing it in London was like “being part of a field trip to a historic site,” because he found himself surrounded by so many tourists and schoolchildren. But he loved its cozy mystery. “Oh, bliss, it’s a living Clue board,” he said.
“So, yes, ‘The Mousetrap’ creaks,” he wrote, “but old houses do; that’s part of their charm.”
The show’s long West End run was interrupted by the lengthy coronavirus shutdown. Spiegel said the idea for the transfer to Broadway arose soon after “The Mousetrap” reopened in May 2021. Ever since, it “has probably had the most successful run of its life,” Spiegel said, “so suddenly we got a renewed sense of purpose about where else it might work, and New York seemed a good place.”
“The Mousetrap” is set for a limited engagement, according to the website. Asked if that could end up actually being for 70 years, like in London, Spiegel demurred. “That might be a bit ambitious,” he said, “but we might as well aim for the moon.”
Wherever “The Mousetrap” ends up being staged on Broadway, one thing about the production is guaranteed: Spiegel said that it would “of course” end every performance just as it does in London, with a member of the cast asking the audience to keep the identity of the killer to themselves. The no-spoilers plea has helped keep the ending a surprise for 70 years.