For Steitzer, the biggest trick he has to pull off as director of Village Theatre's production of the Agatha Christie murder mystery, "The Mousetrap," is to make sure the audience doesn't see where the story is going too early.
It's a trick that has challenges, seeing as how the play has been around for more than 50 years. But Steitzer has been pleasantly surprised by audiences so far.
"It's amazing. There have been some audiences who, once the murder has been revealed, there have been quite a few gasps," Steitzer said in a phone interview. "Nevertheless, there are a lot of folks who know the solution, but part of the fun is watching those who don't know it."
"The Mousetrap" opens Friday at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
Steitzer has had some experience with Agatha Christie's work, having directed "Ten Little Indians." So when Village Theatre artistic director Steve Tompkins asked Steitzer to direct "Mousetrap," he was excited because he's a fan of great mysteries.
"It's a formula I've always loved," Steitzer said.
The tale kicks off in a snowstorm where an unlikely group is stranded in a guesthouse.
So the formula works out to one snowstorm equals eight people, one murderer and one nameless target.
Steitzer said this whodunit is different than Christie's "Little Indians" because the cast is much smaller and the suspect is more easily revealed among the cast, sort of.
"He's described," Steitzer said of the suspect, "though Christie does throw a little bit of sand into the works when she suggests it could be a woman. The trick is to hold off the revelations that are going to come until they are meant to come."
Steitzer is excited to work with the cast, many members of which he has known for years and worked with before.
Steitzer has directed or acted alongside most of the cast. Steitzer and castmembers R. Hamilton Wright and David Pichette have all played Ebenezer Scrooge in ACT's "A Christmas Carol."
In "Mousetrap," Pichette plays Mr. Paravicini and Wright plays Major Metcalf.
"Generally, those people that I like to work with have a sense of humor," Steitzer said. "I like to have fun even in serious plays."
Steitzer also said he likes actors such as Hamilton and Pichette "who bring a lot to the table."
"That's the way it should be," Steitzer said. "I'm not the kind of director who believes actors are merely puppets who are made to be bent to my conceptual will; it's directing not dictating."
Steitzer said the cast has done a splendid job and he's eager to see the performance March 10. The director will miss opening night because he has to finish his stint as Mayor Shinn in the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of "The Music Man."
But just one reminder to the audience since he won't be here: "Don't give away the ending."
"The Mousetrap" opens at 8 p.m. Friday at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Performances are at various times through March 24.
Tickets start at $55. Go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-257-8600.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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