Daniel and Shandra Sarasio Meyer met during a theater production at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. However, BrickStreet Theater’s production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap marks the first time the pair will work together as co-directors.
“It’s great directing with Dan because he’s my favorite person to spend time with,” said Shandra, who recently served as stage manager for BrickStreet’s It’s a Wonderful Life. “I’m grateful to be able to draw on his knowledge and experience as a director, because I still have a lot to learn.”
Dan has directed the Spring Play for Forest City High School for the past 23 years. Now he and Shandra lead a cast of eight adults as they bring this classic thriller to life.
“While adults have fewer scheduling conflicts and take more responsibility for memorizing lines, there are many similarities,” Dan said. “For example, with theater in high school and in the community, you have a mix of skill levels, with everyone helping and learning from each other.”
The Mousetrap cast members hail from five northern Iowa communities and represent a range of experiences from novice to seasoned performer.
“That’s what community theater does particularly well,” said Daniel. “There is a wealth of experience and wisdom mixed in with the fresh energy of those new to the scene. As a director, it’s a privilege to help him work together.
Shandra notes that the merger creates excitement and synergy.
“Everyone is getting involved,” she said. “They may not have known each other a few weeks ago, but now you see people pairing up when they’re not on stage to lead lines or stick around after rehearsal to chat.”
The cast includes Daelynn Coombs as Mollie Ralston, Kyle Ennis as Christopher Wren, Joy Newcom as Mrs Boyle, Chris Ebbers as Major Metcalf and Quiliano Anderson as Mr Paravacini – all from Forest City. Ray McQueen from Clear Lake is Giles Ralston. Dani Schon from Belmond is Miss Casewell. Matt Holub of Mason City is Sergeant Trotter and Mike Brown of Garner is the radio announcer. Brian Moeller of Forest City is an understudy. The Sarasio Meyers have also recruited new crew members for BrickStreet.
“To have a successful community theater you need new talent that brings new energy,” said Shandra, a former BrickStreet board member. Dan hopes the trend will continue.
“One of the things that I hope will happen with The Mousetrap is for audience members to see the show and think, ‘I could do that’. I could help make something like it will happen one day,” he said.
Shandra added that the intimate feel of BrickStreet’s new space on Highway 69 South helps create that kind of experience. The space is described as having a Blackbox feel.
“The audience is so close to the action that they’re practically on stage already,” she said. “Although BrickStreet’s shows have a professional atmosphere, their production and rehearsal processes are suitable for anyone who loves theatre.”
Both directors are fans of Agatha Christie. When presented with the opportunity to direct, they were eager to bring the author’s skillful storytelling to life.
“I’ve always enjoyed his masterful twists and character development,” Dan said. “His characters have depth with very few superficial moments. It’s a particularly masterful storyline with wonderful twists.
Shandra noted that while the story is about solving a murder, author Christie also managed to slip in some humorous moments.
“There are great comedic parts that our cast does a great job with,” she said. “I think
audiences will enjoy the mix of intrigue and humor.
In The Mousetrap, an unlikely group of diverse travelers get to know each other when they get snowed together. Five of Monkswell Manor’s tenants become murder suspects along with the owners of the lodge, a newlywed couple struggling to keep the panic at bay.
The show has the distinction of being the longest running and most continuous play in the world. The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously until a global pandemic shut it down in March 2020. BrickStreet’s version of this murder mystery takes place from September 30, October 1-2 and October 7-9. The curtain opens at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.
This production will be presented in the new premises of the BrickStreet Theater at 1305 Hwy 69 South in Forest City. The space houses the organization’s offices, costumes, props and stage shop. The organization currently has a fundraising campaign underway to raise money to improve lighting, sound and audience seating.
Tickets are available at www.brickstreettheatre.org or at the door, if available. They can also be purchased by leaving a message at the BrickStreet box office at 641-585-1800.