Review: Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is a delightful journey at Richardson Theatre Centre
By Agatha Christie
Directed by Rachael Lindley
Produced by Richardson Theatre Centre
Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie’s most famous and long-running characters, appearing in her novels, plays, and short stories. The quirky Belgium detective is brought to life by Blair Mitchell in Richardson Theatre Centre’s 2024 Season Opener. Poirot almost misses the train which is surprisingly completely booked in off-season, until his old friend Monsieur Bouc (Budd Mahan) offers his own private berth. Mahan is charming as the unflappable managing director of the railroad company. Conductor Michel (Russell Harris) allows us to meet each new passenger as they embark.
The motley crew includes a very military retired Colonel Arbuthnot (Brad Echols) and an anxious Mary Debenham (Katie Crawford) whose relationship is unclear. Then there is the lovely, refined, exiled Princess Dragomiroff (Deborah Key) and her hyper-religious traveling companion Greta Ohlsson (Alison Schonohoff). K. J. James sweeps on board as the loud, dramatic, frequently married Helen Hubbard. As she sings to herself in her cabin, the audience is treated to too-brief moments of James’ musical gifts. The unsavory Samuel Ratchett is played with enthusiasm by Joe Cucinotti. Troy Murray brings comic relief as the eager young assistant Hector McQueen who accompanies Ratchett. Natasha Braun is the elegant Countess Andrenyl, who is also a doctor. Nathan Beeman (waiters) makes the most of his brief appearances, especially when incorporating a bit of physical comedy into assisting the Princess and her companion with their luggage.
Greg Smith’s Set Design is a work of art. It allows us to join the characters on the train platform as well as in their train compartments. Thanks to this set, the audience begins their journey on the Orient Express as soon as the house opens. The set construction crew included: Jim Bakker, Kyle Chinn, Janice Echols Gillmore, Sasha Inska, Jackie Johnston, David Kelton, Kimberly and Niki Kris-Smith, Courtney Smith plus the cast and crew. Costume Designer Christina Bailey set the period with choices true to the 1930s time frame. Kenneth Hall incorporated essential shadows as Lighting Designer. Kudos to Sound Designer Rusty Harding. His sound design also included a recorded moment essential to the plot. In that recording we heard the voices of Debra Harding, Candie Blunt (stage manager) and newcomer Lily Warren, an RISD student.
There are always surprising twists and turns in Agatha Christie’s works, but they take a different direction in Murder on the Orient Express. Done very well by this ensemble cast under the direction of Rachael Lindley, RTC’s Artistic Director, this is a trip worth taking. Don’t forget that RTC is a small venue and frequently sells out the house. Order your tickets online at richardsontheatrecentre.net or call the box office at 972-699-1130. Performances continue through February 18th. Thursday performances are at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2pm.
Experience Live Theater!
Accessible Seating: Available
Hearing Devices: Not Available
Sensory Friendly Performance: Not Available
Production Sound Level: Comfortable Sound Level
Noises or Visuals to Prepare for: Gunshot at end of Act One
Running Time: 2 ½ hours including 15 minute intermission