25 Seasons—25 Stories: “The Mousetrap” Missed Entrance

12 Jul

Being a part of the live theatre, one comes to expect that things happen outside of one’s control. Costumes can fall apart. Props can break in a moment. Your partner onstage may, or will, forget a line. And the worst of all—your partner may not, or will not, make his or her entrance as expected. 

In this edition of 25 Seasons—25 Stories, our own Hal Cropp recalls his entrance miscue in a 1995 performance of The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap Missed Entrance
by Hal Cropp

Here’s the story: We were performing in the old St. Mane and at the time we were operating on old Apple II’s. One of the games available at that time was an electronic version of the game RISK. Former Resident Ensemble Member Chris Oden (playing Detective Sargeant Trotter) didn’t enter until 25 minutes into the play and therefore would spend his time before his first entrance playing the game. My entrance came about three minutes before his and one evening, I was watching as he was about to dominate Europe from his vantage point in western Asia —if you don’t know the game, this reference is meaningless—when I heard my entrance cue line.

Now, you need to know that the office which housed the computers was at the western end of the second floor, the stairs to backstage at the eastern end, and my overcoat (the play is set in a snowstorm) was on a rack in the electrics space, which was accessed by the door just before the stairs.

When the time came for my entrance and there was no Paravicini on stage, Carla Noack (playing the heroine Molly Ralston) ad-libbed — “Did I just hear someone coming up the drive?” At which point, Eric Bunge, who was playing her husband Giles, responded, “I don’t know. I’ll go check.” This, of course, left Carla alone on stage. Meanwhile, I was racing down the hall, down the stairs, foregoing my overcoat, and speeding onto the stage to utter my first lines, all the while “shivering” from having been in a snowstorm to get to the house.

 The next morning at breakfast at the Cottage House, I confessed my error to Eric’s mother Marilyn, who gracefully said, “I’ve seen the show a couple of times now and didn’t notice anything unusual, except it seemed odd that you weren’t wearing your coat.”

That’s my memory of it; I skipped over the years of merciless ribbing I received from the ensemble.

And now, the rest of the story. 

We are pleased to welcome former company member Carla Noack with the “real” story behind the story.


For those of you not familiar with the Carla Noack sense of humor, welcome to world of those who are! Thanks to Carla and to Hal for sharing this story and giving us a laugh—even if it is a bit at Hal’s expense. 

Stay tuned for more great stories as
25 Seasons—25 Stories continues!

4 Responses to “25 Seasons—25 Stories: “The Mousetrap” Missed Entrance”

  1. Ben Gorman July 12, 2013 at 3:51 PM #

    I made my own contribution to the missed entrances mystique back in 2005, during the production of Scapin. David will remember this, as it was he left filling the dead air of my own absence in one scene. His character– Geronte, I believe– was fuming about one or another of the servants’ shenanigans at the time I was to appear. When no one appeared, what else could he do but to fume the more furiously? By the time I reached the edge of the stage– what seemed an eternity later, but what may have been as little as 25 seconds– David was in a red-faced fit of apoplectic rage so hideous to behold that I actually hesitated a moment longer before entering– I was so much in fear for my life. I mean, he had every right to be angry, and there was so much physical beating happening in the play, I must have assumed he thought he could get away with taking out his fury on me. But he was a gentleman about it. After the show, I offered to buy all the cast and crew a round at the pub as a gesture of amends for my error, in what I HAD HOPED would become a precedent-setting act. Haven’t been around backstage since then, so I don’t know whether it stuck. But, yeah, I pretty much blame Hal.

    • Commonweal July 22, 2013 at 11:34 AM #

      Ben—this is a riot and I will share the memory with the company. And, yes, perhaps the reminder needs to be given of the proper amends to any future errors of the same. (jeremyvm)

  2. David Banner July 19, 2013 at 3:47 PM #

    Karla was an absolute HOOT in her cameo….Hal….she gotcha!(smile)


    • Commonweal July 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM #

      Always good to keep Hal honest…and humble! Thanks for the comment, David. (jeremyvm)

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