Mansfield Theatricals presents ‘House of Secrets’

By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

The cast of Mansfield Theatricals gathers on stage at the conclusion of “House of Secrets” on June 7. From left, are Joyce McGraw, Alysha McGraw, Suzette Fontaine-Garrison, Lisa Hall, Christy McGraw and Jim Mickelson. (Provided photo/Diana Mickelson)

Mansfield Theatricals presented “The House of Secrets,” written and directed by Diana Mickelson, June 7-9.

For the past 25 years, the theater group has delighted audiences with performances during Playday weekend in Mansfield.

The annual productions are a staple entertainment event for Mansfield and Playday audiences. They always look forward to the signature phrase: “That’s all you know…”

That phrase “has been inserted into all of our plays for the past 25 years,” Mickelson said.

This year’s play was a mystery, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience in suspense until the very end.

The plot follows Sarah Gates, a freelance writer from New York (played by Lisa Hall), and her new friends Rand Sawyer, a police detective (played by Jim Mickelson), and Laura Sawyer, a lawyer and Rand’s sister (played by Suzette Fontaine Garrison), who search together for clues to the secret treasure Gates’ departed uncle had planned for her.

The cleverly written play took the trio to a series of locations where clues were found, including a false-bottom desk drawer, a closet, a safe behind a picture, and a door disguised as a bookcase leading to a secret stairway to the attic. There, Sarah had to navigate a maze where the treasure was found.

As the trio of treasure hunters found each clue leading to the next, tension mounted. At the same time they were attempting to find the treasure, three others were on the same mission to find the treasure first: Reese Fields (played by Christy McGraw), and Bridgette and Charlotte White (played by Joyce McGraw and Alysha McGraw).

To create the various scenes, Diana and Jim Mickelson designed and built the stage for the play. Diana Mickelson painted the stage floor, and the couple installed color coordinated molding and painted the walls with the help of volunteers. The Mickelsons looked for just the right props to add to the realism of the set.

“A lot of work goes into making each scene look like the real thing…,” Diana Mickelson said.

Mansfield proudly supports the performing arts and this year the local group was also the focus of the Mansfield Museum and Historical Society display: 25 Years of ‘The Drama of it All!’

The museum also entered a float in the Playday parade featuring characters from past productions.

“With over 25 years of plays from ‘Suessical,’ ‘Harvey,’ ‘The Odd Couple,’ ‘Nunsense’ and many others, the museum wanted to honor the Mickelson’s commitment to bringing cultural enrichment to the Mansfield community, through a display that promotes a fine heritage in the performing arts,” museum President Darold Wax said.

Diana Mickeslon said, “We believe that drama is important, that’s why we keep putting on plays.”

Mansfield Theatricals is sponsoring a drama camp for children entering grades 3-12 from July 8-13 at the Theatricals building downtown on Main Street. Those attending the camp will develop acting skills, volume control and memorization skills. A play performance is scheduled July 13 at 6:30 p.m. Registration for the camp is required by June 21.

For further information, contact Diana Mickelson at 683-1212.

“We look forward to developing talents in the performing arts this summer at the theater,” Mickelson said.