The mysterious world of Agatha Christie has come to the Bahamian stage as The Guild debuts the stage play “The Mousetrap” – the world’s longest-running play.
Set in 1950s Nassau, the newly-established guest house of Monkswell Manor finds itself as the setting for a gruesome murder. Guests arrive seeking a respite from their daily lives, but instead, their secrets are revealed after a murder occurs as the clock ticks toward the culprit’s next strike.
Featured in the production are Allaya Hagigal, Jeremie Johnson, T-Day, Suhayla Hepburn, Jamell Dawkins, Salem Cunningham and Devantai Sterling.
“Because Agatha Christie is an internationally acclaimed mystery writer whose stage play, The Mousetrap, is in its 70th year, we thought that a murder-mystery … something untraditional, funny, and poignant – would be a perfect fit for our first theater production because The Guild is about breaking the mold and pushing ourselves and the performing arts in The Bahamas to another level,” said Hagigal. “With each production we hope to elevate the work we do and keep our audience salivating for more content.”
The Guild, the artist society dedicated to bringing the best of young Bahamian talent to stage and screen, will host the debut production of Christie’s acclaimed comedic mystery stage play at St. John’s College Auditorium, Stapledon Gardens tonight and again on Saturday, August 27.
Hagigal had no problems casting for the roles.
“Bahamian actors are always eager for opportunities to add to their portfolio, so when we posted the casting call, there were a number of artists who reached out hoping to snag one of the seven positions in our play. Three of our actors, like Devantai, who plays Detective Trotter, are new to the acting scene, but others like myself and Jeremie “Jay” Johnson have had the fortune of being ensconced in the theater industry. Our set designers, Terrance “Redeye” and Nelson Smith have a combined three-and-a-half decades of experience in set artistry.”
Established in mid-January, The Guild is a new Bahamian artists society focused on grooming new talent and creating collaborative productions between young artists, Hagigal said.
“I started The Guild at my mom’s [Aneida Fitzgerald] suggestion because we saw a huge void in the industry for young talent to create and garner investment for their creative projects. It was meant for Bahamian dramatic artists, but now we have wonderful artists from all walks of life and specialties.”
A portion of the proceeds from the production will go towards supporting Hagigal’s dream to pursue a bachelor degree in theater and professional acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). It costs $24,000 a year to attend. Hagigal said she hopes to obtain the funding for her first year before her school’s deadline on September 11.
She said she decided to study theater and professional acting because she loves the craft.
“I began acting at age six as a way to cope with my dad’s untimely passing. My first role was an understudy for one of my mentors, Patrice Francis’ production of ‘An Unusual Sacrifice,’ I believe it was. I enjoyed putting on accents and playing the role. It was a much-needed distraction and brought me solace. Last year, I decided to ‘take a leap of faith’ by applying to the prestigious LAMDA for fine arts and after three rounds of auditions, the school sent me an initial offer before the acceptance letters were even released. I was ecstatic.”
Hagigal said she is grateful to have a mother who has consistently nurtured her gift and supported her by taking her to every audition, rehearsal, recital, and photoshoot, and “pouring” into her with reassurance when she felt discouraged.
She is also grateful to be able to call Dr. Nicolette Bethel her mentor. She describes Bethel as “incredible.”
“[Bethel] has been a guiding light in the application process and encouraged me every time I doubted myself. When I auditioned for international productions, she would review the requisite videos and pick the best one. I am also lucky to call Her Excellency Leslia Miller-Brice [ambassador to CARICOM] as role model and mentor. We worked together during Hurricane Dorian and connected due to our love of the fashion industry and community service. As for internationally, I am obsessed with [American actors] Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, and Sir Anthony Hopkins – classic talents.”
In the last two years, Hagigal has acted onscreen as the lead for Stephen Hanna’s short film, “Hindsight,” Don Adriano De Armado in Shakespeare in Paradise’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and most recently, as Cinderella in Valicia Rolle’s musical “Cinderelly.”
She has also worked with TBS Japan as a television show host and has numerous voice acting credits.
Hagigal said it was rough during the pandemic.
“All artists had to refocus their creativity in creating content that could be meaningful yet seen through social media during lockdown. I am grateful to still have had some work, albeit slowly and socially distant, in between lockdowns in the past two years.”
“The Mousetrap” will be held at 8 p.m. nightly. Ticket prices for “The Mousetrap” which is suitable for all ages is $45 VIP which includes preferential seating, hors d’oeuvres and wine; general admission tickets are $30. Tickets can be purchased at mousetrap242.eventbrite.com and at the University of The Bahamas’ Portia Smith Building (3rd floor). For group rates, telephone 242-819-3098.