I first noticed the energy in the room as I walked into Kelsey Theater at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2. Some members of the cast of the upcoming Kelsey production, “Mousetrap,” were onstage joking around while others bustled in the audience and the stage manager Katie Howry ’19 set up her station for the night. No matter the task, there was a vibrant energy circulating the theater. “Mousetrap,” written by Agatha Christie, and directed by Karen Peterson Wilson, will be opening on April 11.
As the cast settled in around the theater, I began an interview with the sound designer, Katharine Horowitz, the first professional female sound designer at St. Olaf. Horowitz comes to St. Olaf with almost 20 years of sound design experience in the Twin Cities.
Her work appears at many prominent theaters such as the Guthrie, Jungle Theater and Children’s Theater Company. She is also a 2017 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center.
“There’s a lot of fun music in there, a lot of fun underscoring in the suspenseful moments that I hope will engage the audience and help them take a ride even more in the suspense and the mystery of the story,” Horowitz said when asked about the process of “Mousetrap.” Working with students is also a special experience for her. “If I am able to explain how that works and pass the torch on to other students, that would be great because sound design is kind of an obscure genre and sometimes people think the sound happened by magical sound fairies. So, the opportunity to share my passion and the skill and craft behind it is something I hardly ever turn away,” Horowitz said.
“The cast’s energy was contagious. It was evident that these eight individuals have connected in a brilliant way.” – Katie Anderson ’20
Next, I interviewed the cast of eight St. Olaf students. The cast’s energy was contagious. It was evident that these eight individuals connected in a brilliant way, making me assume their onstage relationships were just as strong and well-established.
The cast spends about 15 hours a week rehearsing, a challenge for many cast members, considering most have a double major outside of theater, including history, computer science and chemistry. While it is time-consuming, they also enjoy having a space set aside to create art. “But given the amount of hard work it is, it’s also a blessing to have 3 hours of space every day where you’re just really focused on working on a project and working with good people who are also invested in that project,” Aaron Telander ’19 said.
Tara Maloney ’19 agrees. “Honestly, this process has been super fun. A lot of us have worked together in the past and that’s been a really fun thing. A lot of us are seniors, so it’s our last show together, which is bittersweet at some points,” Maloney said.
“Mousetrap,” the longest running show in the world, is a unique show for many St. Olaf actors because it is a murder mystery play. “It’s a very different type of style. It’s a lot more stylized, a little more over-dramatized than a lot of us are used to. There’s not a lot of naturalism that goes with this,” Avery Baker ’19 said. There is also a large amount of physical acting. “I think one of the most unique things about this show was the amount of non-verbal acting we have, even in these dialogue-driven scenes,” Eli Aronson ’21 said. Several cast members have found that even a simple glance can completely alter the moment.
The play also has humorous moments, as some of the cast members’ favorites lines include: “There’s nice fun. And there’s fun that’s not so nice” and “The potatoes are all going to pieces.”
The cast of “Mousetrap” will perform April 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., April 13 and 14 at 2 p.m. and April 14 at 6 p.m. Tickets are free for St. Olaf faculty, staff, students and retirees and $10 for the general public.