There was … a murder!
Omaha Community Playhouse opened its next hit “Murder on the Orient Express” last weekend to the sound of gunshots, screams and lots of laughs. Filled equally with mystery and comedy, “Murder on the Orient Express” was adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig and is based on Agatha Christie’s famous novel of the same name. The show follows world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot as he works to solve what could be one of the best thrillers of this century. When a passenger is found dead in his room aboard the Orient Express, Poirot takes charge of the case to catch the killer. But who can it be? Could it be the strong Princess Dragomiroff of Russia or her sweet traveling companion Greta Ohlsson? Could it be Helen Hubbard, the American woman from Minnesota who just loves a good showy tune even when it’s late at night and the walls are seemingly paper thin? Could it be the Countess Andrenyi, the wife of the Hungarian counts who is eyeing Poirot? Could it be the gentle Englishwoman Mary Debenham or her Scottish secret sweetheart, Colonel Arbuthnot? Or there’s Michel, the driver of the Orient Express, or Hector MacQueen, secretary to an angry American businessman who is also a passenger. Or if it was Monsieur Bouc, owner of the Orient Express and close friend of Poirot? Eleven people enter the first class cabins and only ten leave. Are the passengers on board with a killer, or has someone found a way to get on the train and killed one of their fellow travelers? Time is running out and the possibilities are endless. Can Poirot find the clues, catch the killer and ensure justice is served before they reach the next stop?
The “Murder on the Orient Express” creative team is talented at telling this story. The costumes and set design are perfect for telling the mystery of the Orient Express murder, but that’s no surprise given the renowned talents of Lindsay Pape and Jim Othuse and their reputation for producing exceptional work. The music, composed by Justin Payne, helps create the world of these characters, and contributes to the production without distracting from the action on stage.
Director Anthony “CK” Clark-Kaczmarek brought out the best of his performers in this production through his judicious staging and casting choices. He’s assembled a winning cast to tell this story, including new faces on the Omaha Community Playhouse stage. At the head of the ensemble is Seth Maisel, who plays the brilliant Hercule Poirot. Maisel, who debuts at the Omaha Community Playhouse, is electric and charming, and I’d bet on him to win an award or two next year. Her line delivery is precise and meaningful, and her accent is believable and easily understood thanks to her excellent diction and support. Her performance alone is reason enough to take a trip on the Orient Express. But he is not the only one to deliver a captivating or memorable performance. Omaha favorite Connie Lee delivers a brilliant performance as Helen Hubbard and has audiences laughing repeatedly with her witty lines and comedic timing. Billy Ferguson makes his Omaha Community Playhouse debut as Colonel Arbuthnot and commands the stage with a strong Scottish accent and deep voice that makes it impossible not to think that a young Sean Connery is acting on this stage. His colonel is grounded and has an unspoken force about him that is almost impossible not to believe. Jennifer Gilg and Brian Priesman, who play Countess Andrenyi and Hector MacQueen respectively, put on great performances and show an impressive range of emotions on stage. Ethan Dragon, who plays Monsieur Bouc, and Jay Srygley, who plays Michel the conductor, both have a charm and a smile on stage that instantly make you love. Brennan Thomas and Daena Schweiger both create memorable key moments on stage as Samuel Ratchett and Princess Dragomiroff, whether it’s a key storyline moment or a brilliant moment of comedy and drama. excellent line service. And Adam Bassing, who plays multiple roles including butler, Olivia Howard, who plays the charming Mary Debenham, and Roz Parr, who plays sweet Greta Ohlsson, are all strong performers whose performances help to tell a successful story. this story. The cast is one of the strongest playsets I’ve seen on the Omaha Community Theater stage in some time.
Whether you are a fan of comedy or mystery, this is a sight not to be missed. So be sure to grab your ticket to board the train and spend the evening with the talented cast and crew of “Murder on the Orient Express” at the Omaha Community Playhouse. “Murder on the Orient Express” is taking place at the Omaha Community Playhouse until October 10th. For tickets, please visit the Omaha Community Playhouse Box Office, call 402-553-0800 or visit https://ticketomaha.com/Productions/murder-on -l’orient-express.
Photo credit: Robertson Photography