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Community theater returns to lakes area with 'The Mousetrap'

The cast of "The Mousetrap" includes (from left) Dave Cook of Frazee, Nona Willet of Detroit Lakes, Matt Sletto of Detroit Lakes, Sharon Sinclair (seated) of Detroit Lakes, D.Mae Ceryes of Vergas, Doug Schultz of Detroit Lakes, Pete Kleckner of Moorhead (holding rope) and Jim Sinclair of Detroit Lakes.1 / 3
D.Mae Ceryes (left), Pete Kleckner and Matt Sletto rehearse a scene from "The Mousetrap" at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Thursday night. (Photo by Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)2 / 3
Pete Kleckner (left), who plays Detective Sergeant Trotter, rehearses a scene with Doug Schultz as Mr. Paravacini. The murder mystery "The Mousetrap" debuts Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Historic Holmes Theatre in DL. (Photo by Vicki Gerdes/Tribune3 / 3

Who's the murderer? Is it the proper, retired judge? The cynical young woman? The eccentric young man? Or maybe it was the by-the-book, retired military officer!

Find out "whodunit" when Summit Productions presents one of the greatest mysteries of all time, Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," in four performances at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre starting this Saturday, Feb. 28.

For the past seven weeks, the newly formed Summit Avenue Community Players have been hard at work preparing for their debut community theater production.

"We've got a really strong cast," said director Dave Goebel prior to Thursday's cast rehearsal. "By and large, the rehearsals have gone quite well."

"The Mousetrap" stars eight local actors, who were chosen through an audition process last November. Since then, they've rehearsed up to four days a week in order to prepare for their debut.

Sharon Sinclair plays Mrs. Boyle; Nona Willet plays Miss Casewell and Jim Sinclair plays Major Metcalf. Doug Schultz plays Mr. Paravacini, while D.Mae Ceryes plays Mollie Ralston and Matt Sletto plays her husband, Giles Ralston. Dave Cook plays Christopher Wren, and Pete Kleckner plays Detective Sergeant Trotter.

Goebel, a retired Frazee High School drama teacher, is a veteran of area school and community theater productions, who has directed both Jim and Sharon Sinclair, as well as Doug Schultz, during their years with the now-defunct Detroit Lakes community theater group Playhouse 412.

"I worked with Doug Schultz in 'Romantic Comedy,' and both Jim and Sharon Sinclair in 'The Foreigner' and 'The Women,' respectively," Goebel said.

In fact, Detroit Lakes attorney Jim Sinclair said that he first became involved in local community theater because of his wife Sharon.

"She (Sharon) directed the first play that I did -- it started just a couple weeks after we were married," he said.

Sharon Sinclair said that while the character she plays, Mrs. Boyle, is very critical of just about everything and is "not a happy guest" at Monkswell Manor (the setting for the play), she herself couldn't be happier to be there.

"It's been a lot of fun to get back on stage again," she said. "I love theater and have done quite a bit of it in the past, but it's been a long time since there's been an opportunity for us to do it. It's fun to be in a show together too."

Because Jim has the fewest lines to memorize for the play, he said it's given him more time to explore his character, a by-the-book, retired British military officer.

"I'm just really starting to get a feel for (the character)," he added.

Goebel said that because "The Mousetrap" has been done so many times -- since its London stage debut in 1952, there have been over 23,000 productions worldwide -- he has encouraged the actors to "own their character" and try to bring something original to their interpretation.

"As long as it's not too out of line, I'll let them run with it," he said.

For the most part, however, the action runs pretty much according to script. Even the set itself -- designed by the father-and-son technical team of Kevin Mitchell and Greg Olson, from Lake Park -- is pretty much laid out in the script.

"There are elaborate, detailed descriptions of the set in the script book," Goebel said, noting that such details are necessary in order to advance the plot of the murder mystery.

Pete Kleckner, a communication studies major at Minnesota State University Moorhead, is making his DL stage debut in the production, having appeared previously in a church production of "Heaven's Gate & Hell's Flames," while special education instructor D.Mae Ceryes of Vergas noted that she has "zero" past theater experience to draw upon for her stage debut.

"I think I've got the toughest role, with the most lines to memorize," said Kleckner, noting that while it's been difficult, he's enjoying the challenge, and would "definitely" do community theater again in the future.

Ceryes isn't so sure. "Ask me on March 9," she joked.

DL's Matt Sletto, who divides his time between working as a DJ for Party to Go and as a cashier at Wal-Mart, said he's been involved in local drama productions since he was in the fifth grade.

"I love being in front of people and performing -- it gives me a rush," he admitted.

"This is a good, fun cast to work with -- a good mix of people who have been on stage and people who are new (to theater)," said Doug Schultz, a well-known face from past Playhouse 412 productions.

Schultz noted that it's been "a blast" to experiment with his character, the mysterious Mr. Paravacini.

"People know nothing about him -- and he likes it that way," Schultz said of his character.

Goebel just hopes everyone remembers their lines.

"It's coming together," he said.

Summit Productions' "The Mousetrap" will offer four show times to choose from on two separate weekends, Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m.; Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m.

All performances will take place on the main stage at the Historic Holmes Theatre. A cash bar and hors d'oeuvres/dessert menu will be available prior the Saturday evening performances in the Holmes Ballroom, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the show are $20 for adults and $10 for students. To reserve your seat, call 218-844-SHOW or buy online at

The show is part of the BTD Community Connections Series at the Historic Holmes Theatre, with additional support provided by Fundamental Technologies.

Summit Productions is always interested in more volunteers -- behind-the-scenes workers, actors, or anyone interested in getting involved in local theatre. Contact Vicky Williams at the Historic Holmes Theatre at 218-844-4221 Ext. 106 or for more information.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454