Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen On ... Producing the Ultimate Long-runnerDate: 25 November 2011
As part of our “Year of the Producer” series on Whatsonstage.com - inspired by our adoption of Stage One as the charity for the 2012 Whatsonstage.com Awards - we spoke to Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, producer of the West End's longest running show The Mousetrap, which today announced plans to tour the UK as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.
Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen: We don’t keep The Mousetrap going for fun or for posterity: we keep it going because a lot of people come to see it every day, every week, every year. We’ve only had one loss-making week in 59 years, and that was the week that all theatres were forced to close.
We produce it because we want it to succeed, so we keep it fresh and make it a good experience for everyone who comes. So producing this play is a good commercial decision, but it also raises money for our sister charity, the Mousetrap Theatre Project, which takes 12,000 young people to the theatre in the West End every year, who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to go.
I think The Mousetrap is still going because it's a night out for all the family, for eight-year-olds to 80-year-olds. I had a conversation with a colleague who told me he’d taken his family to a number of shows last Christmas and the one that got the highest rating was The Mousetrap.
It’s really good storytelling, and we take the responsibility to tell Agatha Christie's story seriously. So many shows are knowing, or winking at you, or camp, which may work for them. Not for us. We tell a story and we tell it well - and, of course, there is a wonderful twist at the end. We still ask the audience to keep that twist secret and mostly they do, even in our social media age.
The Mousetrap continues at St Martin's Theatre.