Civic Theatre Presents: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express
The Studio Theater // Mar 10 – Mar 25
Thursdays & Fridays @ 7:00 p.m.
Saturdays @ 2:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
Sundays @ 2:00 p.m.
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning, it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed eight times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, the passengers rely on detective Hercule Poirot to identify the murderer — in case he or she decides to strike again.
Note: The March 19 performance at 2 p.m. is designated as an inclusive performance, designed to create a welcoming experience that is intended for patrons who have social, cognitive, or physical challenges that create sensory sensitivities. An ASL interpreter will also be available. Large-print programs are also available for the visually impaired upon request.
Purchase your tickets at thecenterpresents.org.
I sat down with director John Goodson and a few of the lead cast members to discuss why they chose to work with Civic and why they have committed their time and talent to this suspenseful production.
John Goodson – Director
We’ll be in the Studio Theater, which is a much more intimate space. We’re on a “train” for most of the play. So, the trick is keeping it compact and contained and … real. But then also theatrically engaging for the audience so that they want to watch people in very small compartments. We want to maintain some semblance of the close quarters and the stress and anxiety of just being in that space [where] you can’t escape, but then we are also letting the audience see some staging and imagery — utilizing some really cool techniques. Ryan [Koharchik] is brilliant, and we have a really awesome set that’s going to be really versatile and beautiful.
I don’t want to work on a piece that’s going to be easy. I want the challenge of having a puzzle and not having an immediate solution. I think that’s really fun, because you come in with some ideas, the designers come in with some ideas, the performers bring their ideas and then you put it all together and you make magic. And everybody loves a murder mystery and loves trying to solve it even when you already know the answer. We love “Titanic” even though we know how it ends and “Romeo and Juliet” even though it’s tragic. The fun of it is watching it all unfold.
Rex Wolfley – Monsieur Bouc
My relationship with Civic Theatre goes back quite a ways, but this is my first time ever as a performer. I’ve been working for our lighting designer and scenographer, Ryan Koharchik, for 21 years now. This is the first show that I’m doing in about 10 years. Before that, I was working mostly at the Phoenix [Theatre] or Beef & Board [Dinner Theater].
I have a lovely little 8-year-old daughter who’s taking classes [at Civic], and it’s my dream to one day do a show with her, so that’s where I’m at in my personal theater journey. I do enjoy Agatha Christie and have always loved those mystery novels. This show is one that I’ve always been interested in, so, when I saw it on the [Civic] calendar, it fit into my schedule, and I was like, “Alright, let’s give this a shot!”
Lauren Frank – Mary Debenham
I typically do musicals, and I’m kind of your go-to ensemble gal. I wanted to shift that narrative and I thought that going for a play would be a good place to start to work on my acting skills. And I’ve always loved murder mysteries. I’m a true crime buff through and through. I’m constantly listening to [crime] podcasts and watching documentaries, so that really drew me to this show.
I was so excited when I got the call back because that’s not something I typically get. I think the character is really fun, and I’ve never done accents before. Even a British accent is a challenge for me, so exploring that and the character development with such an outstanding cast has been really enjoyable! It’s going to be a truly fantastic show, and I’m just happy to be a small part of it!
Eric Reiberg – Hercule Poirot
I am “Hercule Poirot,” and I am detecting who the murderer potentially is, but of course, I won’t spoil it! Luckily, I’ve had experience with speaking French, just not particularly a Belgian version of it. I haven’t had to mess too much with dialect work anymore than I would with just an American regional accent, so that’s been nice and I can kind of focus on watching and reacting to the other actors.
I just try to take the small little building blocks that are given with the script and what the character is, and from there, I watch what happens and react to it. That’s been my approach. And the reason why I work with Civic is totally selfish: it’s really fun for me. I like acting, and this is a great, juicy part that I was lucky enough to get cast in. And being on stage with other very talented people is also affirming and fun. It’s much better than sitting at home not doing this, so, again, it’s totally selfish.
Hercule Poirot – Eric Reiberg
Monsieur Bouc – Rex Wolfley
Mary Debenham – Lauren Frank
Colonel Arbuthnot – Clay Mabbitt
Hector MacQueen – Luke Faser
Michel/Head Waiter – Ronald May
Princess Dragomiroff – Susan Hill
Greta Ohlsson – Alexis Koshenina
Countess Andrenyi – Evangeline Bouw
Helen Hubbard – Sherra Lasley
Samuel Ratchett – Lee Russell