Ryan Palmer might still get plenty of laughs in the Home Made Theater production of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," but not in the usual way.
"I'm definitely the comic character actor most of the time, and I'm always bounding into a room saying something at the top of my lungs," said Palmer, a Troy native. "That's what I'm typically doing. It's nice to do something different and get away from that."
In Home Made's production of Christie's classic murder mystery, opening Saturday at the Spa Little Theater and running through Feb. 24, Palmer plays a police detective, Sergeant Trotter. He is is sent to a boardinghouse filled with strangers – stranded by a snowstorm – to investigate a murder. "The Mousetrap" opened in London's West End back in November of 1952 and is still running to this day, making it the longest initial run of any show in theater history.
"I grew up on murder mysteries and the BBC was always on at my grandmother's house," said Palmer. "I love all the Agatha Christie stuff and Dr. Poirot. I wasn't that familiar with this particular show, but when I got cast I looked into it and saw that it was the longest-running play in history. I said, 'Wow. It must be a great show.'"
Dianne O'Neill Filer is directing the production, while among those joining Palmer onstage are Devin Funnye, Dennis Skiba, Terri Storti, Emily Fernandez, Steve Maggio, Sydney Palmer and Fred Sirois. Mary Fran Hughes is the scenic designer.
"I show up at the beginning of act one, scene two, and I question the residents of a house about 30 miles outside of London about a murder," said Palmer. "This character I play is a little different from what I usually do. Typically I play someone who is a bit more outrageous and you don't really know where they're coming from. Sgt. Trotter is very defined, and I'm really enjoying this challenge. It's a lot of fun."
Palmer, a state employee, graduated from Troy High, Hudson Valley Community College and SUNY New Paltz. He got a degree in secondary education with a minor in performance.
"I did a semester of teaching and I just realized it wasn't for me," said Palmer. "When I'm not trying to forward my acting career, I work with the New York State Information Technology Services. But I am trying to do as much acting as I can right now. I'm very happy to get this role, because it seemed like every time Home Made had an audition the timing wasn't right for me or it was something I wasn't right for."
The Home Made Theater production of "The Mousetrap" will, as the West End version has been doing 66 years, request that audience members not reveal the twist ending to any of their theatergoer friends.
"Dianne has been great," Palmer said of the show's director, "but I'm not quite sure how we're going to do that yet. You'd think that after 66 years most everyone would know the secret about the ending."
O'Neill Filer confirmed that the production will indeed, at some point either before or after the show, suggest to the audience that they not reveal the ending. She wasn't, however, worried about it.
"I have great faith in the HMT audiences not to spoil the fun for their friends," said O'Neill Filer. "It is part of our plan [to ask the audience], but it may have to be part of the preshow spiel. I don't want to interfere with the actors' moment in the spotlight."
Palmer's acting resume is small because he's only been at it a little more than two years. He has done three shows with the Circle Theater Players in West Sand Lake, and has also performed at Troy Civic Theater and the Woodstock Community Theatre.
"I've worked with Dennis Skiba and Steve Maggio, so it's fun being on the stage with them," said Palmer. "I've also worked on an independent film project just last summer. There are a number of New York writers and directors who are coming up to the Hudson Valley to shoot films, so that's making it easier to get work."
'Fences' at Siena
The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York will be running through its second and final weekend production of August Wilson's "Fences" at Siena College's Beaudoin Theatre in Foy Hall.
Jean-Remy Monnay is directing the production, which follows the experience of a former Negro League baseball star who now works as a garbage man in Pittsburgh in 1957. The play made its Broadway debut in 1987, and won four Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.
Emmitt Ferris, Sharon DeSilva and Majestic Tillman are among the cast members.
WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Spa State Park
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Feb. 24; performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $27-$24
MORE INFO: (518) 587-4427 or www.homemadetheater.org
WHERE: Beaudoin Theatre, Foy Hall, Siena College
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: Adults $15; seniors, Siena faculty and veterans, $12; students and youth, $5
MORE INFO: Call (518) 833-2621 or visit Black Theatre Troupe's Facebook page