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World’s Longest-Running Play Sets Reopening Date

Stage Directions • Theatre Buzz • July 6, 2020

On October 23rd once more will theater audiences be welcomed to Monkswell Manor when performances resume of the world’s longest-running play, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. It seems fitting that perhaps the first show to reopen on the West End would be the one that has been running 68 years, having originally opened in London in 1952. The quintessential Christie whodunit, finds seven snowed-in strangers at the countryside Monkswell Manor when they realize a London murderer is among them. Based on a 1947 radio play of Christie’s Three Blind Mice written for the royal family, The Mousetrap is a production that seems to prove it can, beyond the test of time, withstand the test of a pandemic shutdown.

After 68 years, 28,200 performances and having sold more than 10 million tickets, the production’s cast will take the stage at the St. Martin’s Theatre on October 23, with social distancing in place. The 550-seat capacity venue will welcome only around a third of that capacity audience due to spacing requirements. The actors as well will remain two meters apart from each other on stage and backstage some distancing modifications will be implemented.

“I recognize that for the vast majority of West End productions, operating with social distancing is simply not possible,” acknowledges Producer Adam Spiegel. “I produce other shows which will also be unable to re-open under these restrictions. We are very fortunate with The Mousetrap that, with the help of our stakeholders, we are able to adapt our economic model to be able to re-open. Whilst this cannot be a long-term exercise, we believe it is a crucial first step in restoring live theatre to the London landscape.”

He continues, stating, “From examinations of the operational requirements of the building, we are able to adhere to necessary social distancing on stage, backstage, and throughout the auditorium and public spaces. The recent announcement of the government’s road map therefore brings our re-opening into immediate focus.”

He also noted that “It feels very symbolic that The Mousetrap will be amongst the first – and potentially the very first – West End show to open its doors again. As well as being the longest running play in the world, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist this country [England] has ever produced. She had already left a legacy for us to take great pride in. Her name being back up in lights in the West End, heralding the beginning of the end of a very dark time in the history of the theatre, means she will rightly remain one of the most celebrated figures in our cultural life.”

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