Director Marc Antonio Pritchett is currently rehearsing his cast for the next main stage production Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at Theatre Palisades. I sat down with this classically trained actor, singer, and stunt combatant to learn more about his take on this classic crime script and uncover a few details about this multi-talented entertainment industry professional.
The Mousetrap is truly a classic of the whodunnit genre. What is your take going to be?
How are you directing this production for Theatre Palisades?
It’s amazing to break into this material and really see how detailed Agatha Christie was – which she had to be, as the queen of crime! She put all of these little details, all of these “Easter eggs” into places that will pay off later in scenes. In rehearsal, it’s a challenge. But the payoff is worth it. We just have to cross all of our t’s and dot our i’s, and manage to act in there as well, to pull off this amazing show that’s been done more than any other show ever.
There will be some fun discoveries and connections for those who watch and listen very closely. We are definitely honoring the original script, and we are making it as digestible for a modern audience as possible.
Why did you choose to direct Agatha Christie?
I’ve always been into the genre! As a kid, I was into Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, and Sherlock Holmes. I loved to try to figure out what was going on before the ending. So this is a really unique opportunity to help shape that experience for other people.
What inspires you as a director?
Probably the most impactful experiences have been working with the classics – working with Shakespeare in particular, where, in addition to the normal things you have to work with in a play, you have this heightened language that you have to make seem commonplace. You have to get the actors to emote through the language, and to get them to be able to communicate in a way that modern people can hear.
I also have a background in Opera, which is very helpful, because in many cases with that genre, the audience is just looking at supertitles and may have no idea what’s going on! So you really have to make sure the performers are communicating physically and emotively for the audience to be able to follow the story all the way through.
We know directing is only one of your many skills and talents. What are some of the others?
I’m a session singer. Recently, I sang on the new Lion King movie soundtrack, which was an amazing experience! I also do fight work, sword work in particular. I’m a fight coordinator and I run a stage combat school.
So it’s a weird, eclectic mix but it all comes together when I’m directing or acting.
I went to the University of Georgia where I was a double major in Music and Drama, and I also studied Martial Arts and Fencing. A counselor there directed me to go into entertainment where all of these skills could come together. No one cares if a concert pianist can throw a side-kick, but an actor who can play piano and throw a kick is more valuable. And this is true with directors as well. So I changed my music focus to film composition, and fighting into stage combat.
What shows are on your future wish list? Besides all of Shakespeare, of course…
Hamlet was one of my first professional gigs, which I did 170 times! I’d like to do something like David Ives (All in the Timing) again, an evening of one-acts. I love hilarious one-acts like that, so either specifically David Ives, or someone who is similar. Also, some of the parodies to the classics are fun, like Fortinbras. I’ve always wanted to direct that. So maybe have a run of Hamlet on a double bill with Fortinbras.
The Mousetrap, by Agatha Christie, is performing at Theatre Palisades from August 30 through October 6, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm.
You can purchase tickets via phone at 310-454-1970 or via http://www.theatrepalisades.com/ Tickets are $20-22.
Address: Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Cyn. Rd., Pacific Palisades.
For cast and crew interviews, join their facebook page at facebook.com/theatrepalisades.
The Mousetrap is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Having grown up in the Los Angeles area, Julie has many connections to the local theater and film communities. However, her body, heart, and most of her performing and writing work continues to be San-Francisco-Bay-Area based, where she has been living since 1987. She completed her Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts (writing and performance) from San Francisco State University in 1996, and was certified to teach Action Theater in 2006.
Julie is also a photographer, a foodie, a mother, a coach, and – in addition to journalistic writing and editing – she works as a website content and newsletter writer for visual and performing artists, arts organizations, and creative entrepreneurs. Past clients include SF Opera and the San Francisco Arts Commission. She lives in Alameda, CA. Learn more about her Island city at https://www.bravoyourcity.com/microguide/alameda-california & for more about her personal and professional work, visit JFACommunications.com and StarJoyful.guru .