Sunday, August 30, 2015

News: A new surprise ending for 'The Mousetrap'

It happened Wednesday night at the Walnut Street Theatre production, in front of an audience of about 1,100. Inquirer theater critic Howard Shapiro reports from the Walnut.

News: A new surprise ending for 'The Mousetrap'


By Howard Shapiro

Night after night, Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap repeats itself in England — after almost 25,000 performances, the world’s longest-running play. But Wednesday night, the Walnut Street Theatre’s current production of the play had a new surprise ending when Dan Hodge, one of its actors, proposed to his unsuspecting girlfriend at the curtain call.

“It is February 29th, leap year — in fact, leap day. And I’m going to take a leap,” Hodge told the audience and a startled Krista Apple, after she was called to the stage from the audience of about 1,100 people. On his knees, Hodge then said: “Leap year comes around every four years. But a girl like you is once in a lifetime.”

The audience broke into cheers, and Apple answered with a tight hug and long kiss. Hodge gave her a ring made by Paul L. Nolan — a jewelry maker and also an actor in The Mousetrap.

Apple, too, is currently working for the Walnut, in a tour of the company’s recent production of Proof. Wednesday, she was in town for a night off, and finally able to see Hodge in The Mousetrap, which opened five weeks ago.

At the curtain call Wednesday night, just after 10:30, another cast member, Harry Smith, did what he customarily does — he asked the audience never to reveal the ending of the murder mystery. Then he asked if a Krista Apple, somewhere in the house, could come up on stage. Apple, sitting on the aisle in row J on the left side of the Walnut main stage auditorium, looked perplexed as she rose to come forward. Two minutes later,  she was beaming after Hodge popped the question. 

Hodge and Apple have been an item for almost five years. They met in 2007 when he was playing in Theatre Exile’s Glengarry Glen Ross and she was in the Wilma Theater’s production of The Life of Galileo. Apple shared a dressing room at the Wilma with a friend of Hodge’s, and one night he went to dinner with some of the Galileo cast.

“She sat across from me,” he said in an e-mail note about their relationship. “My friend got me her number and told me she had a huge project due at Temple the following Monday, so not to call Krista until then. Krista called me the next day. We went on one date — Friday night, I think — and that was it.”

A year later, the two moved in together “and we’ve basically been living like a married couple since then,” Hodge wrote in the e-mail. He decided to make it official and another friend, theater artist Charlotte Northeast, suggested he should do so at the theater.

“I’m a huge theater history geek,” Hodge explained, “so there’s something really exciting about the prospect of becoming a part of the history of this major American theater.” What’s more, his new fiancee’s fave play — Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire — had a pre-Broadway tryout at the 203-year-old theater, on the same stage, in 1947. “So there’s something great about proposing to her in the building where that premiered,” Hodge wrote.

Contact Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727,, or #philastage on Twitter. Read his recent work at Hear his reviews at the Classical Network,

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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