Directing his first play, “Mousetrap,” at Utah State University Eastern is not as daunting as it sounds.
Wade Arave, enrollment services admission’s adviser, spent almost his entire educational background in theater with eight years of college majoring in theater. The past two years working at USU Eastern has given him a reprieve from the world of theater. Up until now, that is.
Arave is in full theatrical mode this month as he readies his actors for opening night on Thursday, April 10. After working with teenagers for three years at Canyon View Middle School and Canyon View High School in Cedar City, he is now working with college theater majors at USU Eastern whose actors have direction. “Their state of mind is different because they are on stage to become better at their craft,” Arave explained.
At first, Arave was apprehensive about getting back into theater. He was living in his comfort zone working at recruiting students to USU Eastern. However, up until the summer of 2012, he had spent pretty much his entire adult life working in the trade. His magical “comfort ball” was broken after his first night of rehearsals on the Geary Theatre stage. Being back in theater is like riding a bike, “you never forget how.”
According to Araver, directing plays is taxing on a lot of levels: physical and mental.
“I am always thinking about the artistic process and how to make it better, more believable,” he said.
He started planning to produce “Mousetrap” last summer when he collaborated with USU Eastern theater chair Corey Ewan while on a recruiting trip to Nebraska.
“We pretty much planned the next two years of plays,” Arave said.
Why did he pick “Mousetrap?” Those who work in professional theater know that they have to produce plays that make money, plays that most people are familiar with; musicals and murder-mysteries come to mind. At USU Eastern, the goal is double sided. Arave said they have to think about how directors can push actors into different directions plus please the audiences with a recognizable name of a play.
“We like our audiences to enjoy the show, make them family friendly which is important to our Utah audiences,” he said.
Most everyone knows Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap,” but he wants everyone to come see their adaptation of the play. It’s been running for over 60 years and considered the world’s longest-running stage play.
The original play opened in the West End of London in 1952 and is known for its twist ending where the murderer’s identity is divulged, which is unusual for playing with the very basis of the traditional whodunit formula.
Arave made his first act incredibly funny. “I think Agatha Christie wrote it that way,” he said. “I want the atmosphere light, then change into the real world where one’s fears are coming true.”
His eight actors are in three-hour rehearsals, six days a week. “I think they are adapting well to my style of directing,” Arave concluded.
The actors include: Lesly Gaona playing Mollie; Joshua-David Zelasko as Giles; Mckylin Rowe playing Christopher; Mrs. Boyle played by Annie Zelasko; Josh Bone as Major Metcalf; Miss Casell played by Libby Petereit; Julian Barone Fowler playing Paravincini; Ryan Pettingill as Trotter; and the male character’s understudy played by Aaron Bone.
Brent Innes designed the lighting and sound; Joshua-David Zelasko the stage; Ewan the set dressing; and Lisa Giacoletto the costumes.
“Mousetrap” plays two weekends, April 10-12 and 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Geary Theatre. Costs are USU Eastern students – $1 (with activity card), USU Eastern faculty and staff – $5, non-USU students – $5, senior citizens – $7 and adults – $10.