Agatha Christie wrote many mysteries but "Murder on the Orient Express" remains the most popular. I find it very interesting that although it became a terrific movie, it was not adapted into a stage play until recently. We at the opening night performance in the Okoboji Summer Theatre were seeing it for the first time on that stage.
The setting is in a train leaving Istanbul in 1934 (the year Christie wrote the book). The characters all have Hungarian, Turkish or French accents with the exception of one American.
The accents, especially dialogue from the female performers, got in our way sometimes. They were speaking so fast and it was hard to understand. However, it did not take us long to become enthralled with the murder and attempts to find the culprit.
I tip my hat to director Stephen Brotebeck for putting together a talented cast and steering them on the path to success.
One of the OST audience's perennial favorite actors, Rob Doyen stars in "Murder." His voice rings out and his facial expressions work well with his skill in body language technique. He is at times very funny and then again extremely ponderous as the famous Christie detective Hercule Poirot. Doyen richly deserved the standing ovation and cheers he received at curtain call.
Chad Fess is making his first appearance on the OST stage. The television and independent film actor has worked at Blue Man Group in Chicago for 15 years. That experience lent itself well to his role at Monsieur Bouc. He is hilarious from start to finish! I hope he graces the OST stage again in the near future!
The rest of the cast includes: Braden Tanner, Fiona Bleu, Sofia Garcia, Sydney Scott, Tanner Dean, Blake Sauceda, Shawnee Richberger, Megan Beilsmith, Zoe Rech and Ryan Lynch.
Each plays his or her role correctly and with a desire to advance the storyline perfectly. They continue to offer us important clues as to the identity of the murderer while entertaining us with their character-driven antics.
A huge credit for the success of this production is the set designed by Ken George. The Orient Express is a beautiful piece of machinery with glorious woodwork and clever use of space. The tall walls — used to help us make the transition from one train car to another — was clever and innovative. To see that set function so cleverly and beautifully is worth the ticket price alone. Bravo Ken George!
The performances are a tribute to a mystery written by the best. Even those of us who have seen the movie or read the book and know what happens, were mesmerized by those on stage telling us the story again. The audience was totally silent and immersed in that excellent piece of fiction for the entire show.
Those who like a good mystery, want to see a beautiful set in action, love to laugh and/or watch a well done stage play, won't want to miss "Murder on the Orient Express." It runs through Sunday night.