New Jersey Star-Ledger, January 28, 1977

Paper Mill 'Mousetrap' springs deftly

by Bette Spero

"The Mousetrap" is sure to catch your attention, if you like crisp, well-crafted drama. Even if you know mystery-queen Agatha Christie's tales by heart, it's worth the trip to the Paper Mill Playhouse just to see how professionals unfold their talents.

It's no mystery why the show, expertly directed by David McCallum, is so well done.  The complement of actors and artistic craftsmen is nonpareil.

Miss Christie's story about a country guesthouse in England and its assorted odd guests who encounter a murder or two is just what director McCallum said it was: Entertaining.  It is even intriguing enough -- after 25 years on the London stage and eons on worldwide bestseller lists -- for the uninitiated Christie fans to be surprised at the ending.

Mostly, the Milburn production of "The Mousetrap" is just a pleasant evening of theater, very professionally done -- and that's the pleasure.

The timing for the well-paced, always-moving "whodunit" is perfect in firing the atmosphere of "Did he do it? Oh no, maybe she did...," until the unusual denouement.  It's all done in a remarkable two hours -- and that's including the intermission!

But before the show ever got started, there was most deserving applause for set designer Billy Puzo who crated a sitting-room interior "so veddy British" one spectator who saw the show in London thought that set had been flown here!

On stage, McCallum sets the tone with an impeccable presentation of Detective Sgt. Trotter who arrives in a blinding snowstorm on skis.  McCallum has plenty of surprises, which I wouldn't dare reveal to potential spectators, but among them is a truly skilled ability to change identities and accents as naturally as if they were really his own (which they are most assuredly not).

McCallum is the strength of the show, as befits the star billing, but he has a stellar supporting cast with him every step of the way.  Angela Thornton as the guesthouse owner, Mollie Ralston, gives one of the most believable and just plain perfect performances I have ever seen.