WHEN the star-studded cast of The Mousetrap comes to Windsor later this month, there will be a familiar face taking a bow.
A former Wokingham schoolboy is currently acting alongside Susan Penhaligon for the tour of what is Agatha Christie’s most famous work.
The play is a whodunit and holds the record for the longest-running West End show of all time – 67 years and counting. This is the second major national tour for the show.
Nick Biadon is playing Giles Ralston, the owner of a country manor turned hotel. But the former St Crispin’s student didn’t know he was going to be an actor when he was growing up and roaming free in Elms Field.
“I’ve had a bit of a zig-zag journey,” he admits. “I’d never acted until I went to uni.
“I went to the University of Southampton, joined a drama society and got really into acting.
“After university, I worked for a couple of years and then retrained at the Oxford School of Drama.”
But before university, nothing. Nick didn’t even have much of a theatrical upbringing.
“I went to the theatre once or twice with my parents, but acting was just all new to me,” he says.
“When I was at school I did so impressions, characters from Little Britain for my mates. That’s how it all started. I just enjoyed entertaining people and making them laugh.
“At university, I enjoyed being alive on stage, it was great.”
And a play in his final year was the tipping point.
“We did The Lear, an adaptation of King Lear, and I played the lead in that. We performed it at the university’s Nuffield Theatre. I thought I can actually do this professionally.”
The gamble appears to be paying off. Last year, he enjoyed touring with another play, and this year, it’s Christie.
“I knew of The Mousetrap before I auditioned,” he says. “I knew it was the longest-running play in the West End, but it was one of those plays I thought I’d go and see, but never actually got round to it, there was always something else.
“So the surprise ending was ruined for me.
“The Mousetrap has a great reputation, Christie is the Queen of Crime and I grew up with Poirot and Miss Marple, so she’s always been on my radar.”
The play is enormously popular – no surprise given that the play will soon celebrate its 70th anniversary in the West End.
Nick says: “It’s been part of theatrical history for so long. On the tour, audiences have been great, they are really it enjoying it. They’re also responding to and laughing at different things.
“Our director Gareth Armstrong is keen for us not to send it up. It’s well-written and there is comedy to be found, but our responsibility is not to play it up. As characters, we have to take it all seriously or it wouldn’t work.”
Giles, Nick says, is a lot of fun to play, adding that he worries everyone who crosses his hotel’s door is suspect to be a criminal. “He’s quite suspicious,” Nick explains. “He throws suspicion around. He also has some great comedy moments and some serious pathos too.
“But this is very much an ensemble piece, everyone in the cast is very committed and we bounce off each other.”
The touring life helps ensure that the play stays fresh, with new venues and audiences every week, something he is looking forward to when the show opens in Windsor later this month. However, Wokingham-born Nick’s parents have already seen him in action:
“They moved up north a few years ago,” he says. “So they came to see it in Nottingham. I’m hoping my friends come. I should probably let them know,” and he laughs.
Nick is also proud of the show.
“It’s got something for everyone,” he says. “Some really hilarious moments, especially in the first half.
“It’s got a great story and it’s a time capsule of a play. Set in the 1950s, there are people smoking and posh accents.
“It’s two hours of a very entertaining story.”
But don’t ask him whodunit.
“We want to keep that mystery there,” he says. He’s keeping his mouth trap shut.
Nick’s friends – and anyone else reading this – can book tickets for The Mousetrap, which runs from Tuesday, October 21 through to Saturday, October 26 at the Theatre Royal Windsor.
For more details, call the box office on 01753 853888 or log on to www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk