Teamwork and cooperation are the essence of great theatre, especially when the characters have accents, come from various countries, wear different clothing styles, and carry their own attitudes. Stage Manager Ellie Rutt teamed up with Dylan Twiner (Production Manager/Sound Designer), Michael Graves (Costume Designer), Wade Hicks (Dialect Coach), and Mauro Bozzo (Hair and Wig Consultant) to deliver a tightly woven story of death and intrigue. Great work!
Director Melanie Gladstone has an acutely sharp viewpoint about the action/reality: “While the world may be quite different (or is it?) from 1934, when Agatha Christie wrote this story, after a trip to the Middle East, there are points about this story that resonate with a beauty in the name of Justice. Particularly in current times, what ‘justice’ is, is ever changing.” Melanie did a great job directing the Lakewood Playhouse presentation of The Diary of Anne Frank, where she worked with Craig Rock, who was an outstanding choice for Hercule Poirot.
You can learn a lot by observing and listening, and you just never know who else is listening. Are Colonel Arbuthnot (Brandon Fair) and Mary Debenham (Andrea Gordon) an item or do they have other plans to hatch on the Orient Express?
Costume Designer Michele Graves must have been in her element as she designed and created clothing in the feelings of the 1930s for Orient Express. Ton Williams as Hector MacQueen and Josh Johnson as Samuel Ratchett are dressed in contrasting styles. We have seen Ton perform in both Lakewood Playhouse and CenterStage. He transforms well. In Murder on the Orient Express, he plays a character who stutters and does a great job at it. I don’t recall seeing Josh on stage before. He has acted in a number of productions, and is a choir director and opera singer as well. He plays a pushy well-to-do American very arrogantly.
Samuel Ratchett (Josh Johnson) shares his thoughts on numerous things to Hercule Poirot (Chris Rock), who merely listens . . . and listens.
Now, when women are involved, Hercule Poirot (Chris Rock) does more than listen, he connects, sweet talks, compliments, and smiles, especially with royalty like Countess Andrenyi (Canae Machelle Gray). Gray is from Little Rock, Arkansas, but is now here in Pierce County teaching video editing and production at Franklin Pierce High School. Monsieur Bouc (Jacob Tice) merely listens after introducing Poirot and the Countess.
Monsieur Bouc (Jacob Tice – center) not only introduces various people, but sometimes has to separate them as well. Here we have Helen Hubbard (Jenifer Gillis-Rifenbery – left) having serious words with Princess Dragomiroff (Rosalie Hilburn – right). Jacob recently performed in God Said This at Dukes Bay Theatre just on the other side of Wright Park. Jenifer has performed in a number of TLT productions as well as “Off the Shelf” productions. In her role as Helen Hubbard, she stood up for the clues she saw in her drawing room. Rosalie, when not a princess, has played in TLT’s Cabaret and A Little Night Music. We saw her and enjoyed her in both. She is originally from New Zealand.
There have been murders on the Orient Express. The train has been stopped due to a serious snowstorm that stranded the train. Hercule Poirot interviews the passengers and staff and uses “the little grey matter” to figure out among all the people on the train, “who dunnit.”
The actors made a wonderful presentation, connecting with the audience and each other as they acted and then, finally took their bow. What we found almost astounding was the set itself. As soon as Steel Magnolias finished its run on September 25th, the design crew began building the set for the turn-table production. The scenes shifted flawlessly. Without spotlights the stage spun like a mysterious railroad interchange. It looked like the set cost a fortune, but it was hard work and expertise from Blake R. York (Technical Director/Scenic Designer), Frank Roberts (Lead Carpenter), Niclas Olson (Lighting Designer), and Jen York (Scenic Artist) that made it work.
Murder on the Orient Express runs through November 6. Give yourself an early Christmas present and go see it. Tickets are available through the box office.
Next up is Christmas Story, Jean Shepard’s hilarious story of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940’s. The protagonist is Ralphie Parker, a nine-year old, lusting after a Red Ryder gun for Christmas. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming, comedic romp of pre-adolescent guile, innocence and a glamorous women’s leg lamp. Begins December 2nd and runs through December 24th. Take yourself, your kids and your grandparents – everyone will love this play.
The photography for Murder on the Orient Express was provided by Dennis K Photography.
Allison Westfall says
I noticed you identify the actor playing the lead correctly as Craig Rock in the beginning but later refer to him as Chris.
Don Doman says
Thanks for reading. Yes, I was moving too quickly. We saw the production on Thursday evening and needed to get the review out ASAP. We sent in the review mid-afternoon Friday so it had a better chance of being published on Saturday, but it didn’t get published until Monday. Peg was supposed to be going this afternoon with a friend, but the friend didn’t get the tickets early enough and it was sold out. Time is so fleeting. Craig Rock did a great job. I hope to see it one more time, but you never know.