Community Players to Present ‘Murder On the Orient Express’

The ensemble of “Murder On the Orient Express” (L to R Back Row: Merle Jobman, Jenny Sutphin, Mark Geist, Dylan Warren, Morgan Fox, Ashley Hothan, Vicki Cain. L to R Front Row: Diane Kahnk, Zoe Tien, Scott Clark.)

Community Players Proudly Present:

Murder on the Orient Express
Adapted by Ken Ludwig from a novel by Agatha Christie

Directed by: Rachele Stoops

Venue: Community Players (412 Ella St, Beatrice, NE)
Show Dates: Feb 10-19, 2023
Showtimes: Fri-Sat at 7:30pm. Sundays at 2pm

Synopsis
On the snowbound Orient Express, an American tycoon lies dead in his locked train compartment. With a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must expose the murderer before tragedy strikes again! Thrills and laughs abound in Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of this classic mystery by Agatha Christie.

Tickets go on sale Jan 30, 2023 and can be purchased at www.beatricecommunityplayers.com.

Cast
Scott Clark as Hercule Poirot
Merle Jobman as Monsieur Bouc
Morgan Fox as Megan Debenham
Mark Geist as Col. Arbuthnot/Samuel Ratchett
Ashley Hothan as Greta Ohlsson
Diane Kahnk as Princess Dragomiroff
Jenny Sutphin as Countess A’ndrenyi
Zoe Tien as Helen Hubbard
Vicki Cain as Michele
Dylan Warren as MacQueen

Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre Announces 2023 Auditions

Arrow Rock, MO–Local auditions, held at the Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, will take place on Thursday, February 23 and Friday, February 24 from 11AM-6PM. Please email headshots and resumes and audition time preference to casting@lyceumtheatre.org. No phone calls please. All auditions are by appointment only. Please prepare 16 bars of 2 contrasting songs or a brief monologue. An accompanist will be provided. All levels of experience are welcome. A Lyceum representative will be in touch to confirm your time slot. We are not accepting video auditions at this time.

Equity Principal Audition (EPA) Procedures are in effect for this audition. An Equity Monitor will not be provided. The producer will run all aspects of this audition. The Lyceum is committed to diversity and encourages performers of all ethnicities, gender identities, and ages, as well as performers with disabilities, to attend.

New York Casting will be handled by Jason Styres, THE CASTING COLLABORATIVE.

2023 Season

The Addams Family
June 9-23

BOOK BY MARSHALL BRICKMAN AND RICK ELICE
MUSIC AND LYRICS BY ANDREW LIPPA
BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY CHARLES ADDAMS

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious, and spooky—and now they are the stars of a hilariously ghoulish musical! Storm clouds are gathering over the Addams family’s mansion as Gomez faces every father’s nightmare: his daughter, Wednesday, the ultimate princess of darkness, has fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. And if that wasn’t upsetting enough, Gomez must do something he’s never done before– keep the secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. One thing is certain: the Addams family will never be the same.

Beautiful–The Carole King Musical
June 30-July 9

BOOK BY DOUGLAS MCGRATH
WORDS AND MUSIC BY GERRY GOFFIN & CAROLE KING, BARRY MANN & CYNTHIA WEIL
MUSIC BY ARRANGEMENT WITH SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING
ORCHESTRATIONS, VOCAL AND INCIDENTAL MUSIC ARRANGEMENTS STEVE SIDWELL
ORIGINALLY PRODUCED ON BROADWAY BY PAUL BLAKE, SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING, MIKE BOSNER

Before she was hit-maker Carole King — she was Carole Klein, a spunky, young songwriter from Brooklyn with a unique voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of one woman’s remarkable journey from teenage songwriter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. From the string of pop classics Carole King wrote for the biggest acts in music, to her own life-changing, chart-busting success, Beautiful takes you back to where it all began—and takes you on the ride of a lifetime. Featuring over two dozen pop classics, including “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and “Natural Woman,” this crowd-pleasing international phenomenon is filled with the songs you remember—and the story you’ll never forget.

State Fair
July 21-30

MUSIC BY RICHARD RODGERS
LYRICS BY OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
BOOK BY TOM BRIGGS AND LOUIS MATTIOLI
BASED ON THE SCREENPLAY BY OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II AND THE NOVEL BY PHIL STONG

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s only musical written directly for the screen is now a Broadway musical! Set against the colorful backdrop of an American heartland tradition, State Fair travels with the Frake family as they leave behind the routine of the farm for three days of adventure at the annual Iowa State Fair. Mom and Pop have their hearts set on blue ribbons, while their children Margy and Wayne find romance and heartbreak on the midway. Set to the magical strains of an Academy Award-winning score and augmented by other titles from the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, State Fair is the kind of warmhearted family entertainment only Rodgers & Hammerstein could deliver!

Laughter On the 23rd Floor
Aug 18-27

BY NEIL SIMON

A love letter to his early career as a TV writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows alongside the likes of comedy legends Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor follows the roller coaster antics of a not-your-average 1950s writers’ room, as they frantically attempt to please their larger-than-life boss. Frantically scrambling to top each other with hilarious gags while battling with studio executives who fear the show’s humor is too sophisticated for Middle America, the writing and fighting of the team expose the social and political undercurrents of the 1950s.

The Mousetrap
Sept 8-17

BY AGATHA CHRISTIE

From the Grand Dame of mystery, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest running production, mesmerizing audiences for more than sixty years. Monkswell Manor welcomes a group of strangers in the midst of a snowstorm and on the heels of a murder in town. It soon becomes clear that the killer is among them, and the strangers grow increasingly suspicious of one another. A police detective, arriving on skis, interrogates the suspects: the newlyweds running the house; a spinster with a curious background; an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef; a retired Army major; a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift; and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone. When a second murder takes place, tensions and fears escalate. Will the identity of the murderer be revealed before they strike again?! The Mousetrap’s riveting plot will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!

Bright Star
Sept 29-Oct 8

MUSIC, BOOK & STORY BY STEVE MARTIN
MUSIC, LYRICS & STORY BY EDIE BRICKELL

Inspired by a true story and featuring the Tony®-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Broadway’s Bright Star tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past—and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. With beautiful bluegrass melodies and powerfully moving characters, Bright Star unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion. An uplifting and nostalgic theatrical journey that holds you tightly in its grasp, Bright Star is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.

The Lies We Weave

After breaking into the home of the Hailsham-Browns, a shady character is murdered.  For reasons of her own, the lady of the house tries to cover up the crime, but a relentless police inspector is bound and determined to bring the truth to light.  This is Spider’s Web and it is currently playing at Bellevue Little Theatre.

As an actor I understand the importance and the struggle of avoiding typecasting.  Actors often yearn for the opportunity to play something different from what brought them to the table for a change of pace, the challenge, etc.  In a sense, this play is Agatha Christie’s attempt to avoid being typed solely as a mystery writer.

Seeking to play a different role from the sinister characters for which she had become known, Margaret Lockwood requested Christie write a little comedy thriller for her.  Christie laid a little too much into the comedy side of things.  Had she brought her legendary gift for plotting into the mix, I think the show would have been better served.  What we have is a comedy with just the barest trappings of a mystery.

This particular production is boosted by two things.

  1. Christie’s gift for unique characters remains intact.
  2. A cast and director who found every bit of gold in the story and elevated it based on talent and effort.

Indeed, Christopher Scott shows an extraordinary level of theatre acumen in his direction of this piece.  He leans heavily into the character work and makes certain that all of his performers have well-defined characters who are grounded in reality, even with their quirks.  Scott crafts some fine moments of tension and shock with the murder scene being of a particularly fine vintage.  Some of my favorite moments were the slamming of drawers and the ominous sliding open of a secret passage just so I could hear the audible reactions of the audience member sitting in front of me.  Scott keeps the pace up as well as could be done as this show is just crammed with dialogue, especially in the lengthy first act and has his actors lean into the comedy which helped add vitality to long stretches of dry dialogue.

There isn’t a weak tire in the cast and you’ll see some fine character performances from Dennis Stessman as a very proper butler who knows how to make an exit.  At the age of 14, Lilli Westman has a sense of comfort on stage equitable to veteran adults which makes her Pippa a joy to watch.  Jon Roberson serves as a beacon of normalcy as the steady Henry Hailsham-Brown.  Ben Pearson brings an oily criminality to Oliver Costello.  Brandon Dorsey is stalwart as Constable Jones.  Jackson Newman and Randy Wallace have some extremely excellent chemistry as a comedy duo with their characters of Hugo and Rowland.  Matt Karasek is superbly charming as Jeremy and can speak volumes with an expression or a look.

As Christie deviated from her normal style of writing, this show doesn’t contain a proper detective character though the Inspector comes the closest.  In the hands of a less capable performer, this character could be very one dimensional, but Katie Otten adds multiple dimensions through sheer force of acting ability.  With her ramrod posture and steely-eyed gaze, Otten makes it clear her Inspector is not one to be trifled with.  She brings an intelligence to her character as she knowingly keeps the suspects separated so they can’t collude on stories and is able to spot the clues and make rapid fire deductions. She can also play good cop/bad cop on her lonesome as she can be ingratiating and sympathetic in one moment and then be as volatile as lightning in the next.

One always has the feeling that Sarah Dighans’ Miss Peake isn’t wrapped all that tightly.  She truly lives in her own little reality as she often walks into the Hailsham-Browns’ home as if she owns it and punctuates her speech with a piercing laugh that has the others potentially looking for a straitjacket in case she starts frothing at the mouth.  Miss Peake is assuredly one of the most original characters I’ve seen brought to life and Dighans’ rendition of this character is a highlight of the night.

Clarissa Hailsham-Brown has a fantasy life worthy of Snoopy.  Sara Scheidies’ interpretation of this character had me sensing that she was truly bored of the life of a housewife as she enjoyed playing little jokes on her friends and loved indulging in the game of “Supposing” where she invents little fantasies to enjoy.  Clearly she enjoys the game a little too much for, as she often says, people don’t believe her even when she tells the truth.  Scheidies brings a real innocence to the character as her addiction to “Supposing” gives her an appalling lack of common sense as she tries to cover up the murder instead of seeking the aid of the police.  Or maybe she has more crucial reasons for avoiding the police. . .

Chris Ebke has designed a lovely little country house with soft tan walls, elegant period furniture, a crystal chandelier, and a very neat secret passage that triggered memories of the old Batman TV series.  Joey Lorincz has some very effective lighting tricks as he has the chandelier exude a soft blue when the lights go down so you can see just enough of what’s going on to know what’s happening, but without revealing any salient plot points.  Lora Kaup has designed proper period correct clothes from the 1940s-50s with handsome suits, golf wear, and dresses.

While I prefer more mystery in my mysteries, the efforts of this cast and director turn a middling story into an enjoyable night of character work with a few shocks and surprises and elevate it into something far better.

Spider’s Web plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Jan 29. Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at the Box Office, at blt.simpletix.com, or calling 402-413-8945.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

Lofte Community Theatre Announces 2023 Season

Doublewide, Texas

By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, & Jamie Wooten

March 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 & April 1, 2

Auditions: Feb. 13 & 14 @ 7 PM

The inhabitants of one of the smallest trailer parks in Texas—four doublewides and a shed—are thrown for a loop when they realize the nearby town of Tugaloo is determined to annex them. These friends, enemies, and neighbors will need to work together to overcome the oncoming annexation and preserve their way of life. This hilarious, fast-paced comedy, comes with plenty of “down home” humor to go around!

Wit

By Margaret Edson

May 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14

Auditions: Feb. 16 & 17 @ 7 PM

*We suggest PG-13 for adult themes- This show discusses cancer and death*

Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., a renowned professor of English who has spent years studying and teaching the brilliant and difficult metaphysical sonnets of John Donne, has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. During the course of her illness—and her stint as a prize patient in an experimental chemotherapy program at a major teaching hospital—Vivian comes to reassess her life and her work with deep insight and humor that are transformative both for her and the audience. Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

9 to 5: The Musical

Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton; Book by Patricia Resnick

July 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30

Auditions: May 15 & 16 @ 7 PM

Pushed to the boiling point, three female coworkers concoct a plan to take the power away from the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot they call their boss. Based on the 1980 hit movie, 9 to 5 The Musical is a hilarious, outrageous, and thought-provoking story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era. Come see these women take control of their office and discover there is nothing they can’t do, even in a man’s world.

The Mousetrap

By Agatha Christie

September 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10

Auditions: July 24 & 25 @ 7 PM

*This show discusses death, murder, and child abuse*

After a local woman is murdered, the guests and staff at Monkswell Manor find themselves stranded during a snowstorm. It soon becomes clear that the killer is among them, as the seven strangers grow increasingly suspicious of one another. A police detective arrives on skis to interrogate the suspects but when a second murder takes place, tensions and fears escalate. This murder mystery features a brilliant surprise finish from Dame Agatha Christie, the foremost mystery writer of her time. The world’s longest-running play comes to the Lofte stage!

The Nerd

By Larry Shue

October 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29

Auditions: Aug. 13 @ 2 PM & Aug. 14 @ 7 PM

Aspiring architect Willum Cubbert owes his life to Rick Steadman, a fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who saved his life when he was wounded in battle. Willum has told Rick that as long as he is alive, “you will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for you.” To Willum’s delight, Rick unexpectedly appears on the night of his thirty-fourth birthday party. However, delight soon turns to dismay as he discovers that Rick is a hopeless “nerd,” —a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence and less tact. This outrageous comedy will leave you laughing all the way home!

A Doublewide, Texas Christmas

By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, & Jamie Wooten

December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17

Auditions: Oct. 16 & 17 @ 7 PM

Back in one of the smallest trailer parks in Texas, it’s beginning to look a lot like trouble! Not only are the trailer park residents dealing with the stress of the holiday season, but they’ve just discovered that Doublewide is being double-crossed by the County. New problems come up and familiar problems come back as this band of eccentric Texans must band together once more to keep their lifestyle and their holiday spirit! Oh, there’s no place like a good ol’ Texas-sized mobile home for the holidays!

Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre Announces 2023 Season

Arrow Rock, MOArrow Rock Lyceum Theatre has announced its 2023 season.

The Addams Family
June 9-23

Book by MARSHALL BRICKMAN and RICK ELICE
Music and Lyrics by ANDREW LIPPA
Based on Characters Created by Charles Addams

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious, and spooky—and now they are the stars of a hilariously ghoulish musical! Storm clouds are gathering over the Addams family’s mansion as Gomez faces every father’s nightmare: his daughter, Wednesday, the ultimate princess of darkness, has fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. And if that wasn’t upsetting enough, Gomez must do something he’s never done before– keep the secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. One thing is certain: the Addams family will never be the same.

Beautiful–The Carole King Musical
June 30-July 9

Book by Douglas McGrath
Words and Music by Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
Music by Arrangement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Orchestrations, Vocal and Incidental Music Arrangements Steve Sidwell
Originally Produced on Broadway by Paul Blake, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Mike Bosner

Before she was hit-maker Carole King — she was Carole Klein, a spunky, young songwriter from Brooklyn with a unique voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of one woman’s remarkable journey from teenage songwriter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. From the string of pop classics Carole King wrote for the biggest acts in music, to her own life-changing, chart-busting success, Beautiful takes you back to where it all began—and takes you on the ride of a lifetime. Featuring over two dozen pop classics, including “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and “Natural Woman,” this crowd-pleasing international phenomenon is filled with the songs you remember—and the story you’ll never forget.

State Fair
July 21-30

Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Tom Briggs and Louis Mattioli
Based on the screenplay by Oscar Hammerstein II and the Novel by Phil Stong

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s only musical written directly for the screen is now a Broadway musical! Set against the colorful backdrop of an American heartland tradition, State Fair travels with the Frake family as they leave behind the routine of the farm for three days of adventure at the annual Iowa State Fair. Mom and Pop have their hearts set on blue ribbons, while their children Margy and Wayne find romance and heartbreak on the midway. Set to the magical strains of an Academy Award-winning score and augmented by other titles from the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, State Fair is the kind of warmhearted family entertainment only Rodgers & Hammerstein could deliver!

Laughter On the 23rd Floor
Aug 18-27

By Neil Simon

A love letter to his early career as a TV writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows alongside the likes of comedy legends Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor follows the roller coaster antics of a not-your-average 1950s writers’ room, as they frantically attempt to please their larger-than-life boss. Frantically scrambling to top each other with hilarious gags while battling with studio executives who fear the show’s humor is too sophisticated for Middle America, the writing and fighting of the team expose the social and political undercurrents of the 1950s.

The Mousetrap
Sept 8-17

By Agatha Christie

From the Grand Dame of mystery, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest running production, mesmerizing audiences for more than sixty years. Monkswell Manor welcomes a group of strangers in the midst of a snowstorm and on the heels of a murder in town. It soon becomes clear that the killer is among them, and the strangers grow increasingly suspicious of one another. A police detective, arriving on skis, interrogates the suspects: the newlyweds running the house; a spinster with a curious background; an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef; a retired Army major; a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift; and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone. When a second murder takes place, tensions and fears escalate. Will the identity of the murderer be revealed before they strike again?! The Mousetrap’s riveting plot will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!

Bright Star
Sept 29-Oct 8

Music, Book & Story by Steve Martin
Music, Lyrics & Story by Edie Brickell

Inspired by a true story and featuring the Tony®-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Broadway’s Bright Star tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past—and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. With beautiful bluegrass melodies and powerfully moving characters, Bright Star unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion. An uplifting and nostalgic theatrical journey that holds you tightly in its grasp, Bright Star is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.

Bellevue Little Theatre Announces 54th Season

Bellevue Little Theatre Announces Season 54

Footloose: Sept 16- Oct 2, 2022

Footloose celebrates the exhilaration of youth, the wisdom of listening to one another, and the power of forgiveness.

It’s A Wonderful Life: Nov 4-20, 2022

-It’s the gorgeous love story of George and Mary Bailey, a vivid portrait of the Greatest Generation, a descent into the darkest hour of a man trapped by circumstance and a powerful meditation on what makes a meaningful life.

Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web: Jan 13-29, 2023

-A conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie delivers a unique blend of suspense and humor in a intricate plot of murder, police, drug addicts, invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawers.

A Little Night Music: Mar 10-26, 2023

-Stephen Sondheim’s romantic nineteenth-century waltz whisks us away to a weekend in the country.

Girls’ Weekend: May 5-21, 2023

*Our 250th Production!*

-From the writer of our World Premiere: Temporary Insanity. Karen Schaeffer’s Girls’ Weekend is “Marvelous … successfully punchy … be prepared to laugh”

Maples Repertory Theatre Announces 2022 Season

Macon, MO–Maples Repertory Theatre has announced its 2022 season.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical

June 15 – July 10

There’s a new tenant at Armadillo Acres—and she’s wreaking havoc all over Florida’s most exclusive trailer park. Pippi, the exotic dancer on the run, comes between agoraphobic Jeannie and her tollbooth collector husband, and storms begin to brew. A musical comedy that has a little bit of everything: spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, a broken electric chair, kleptomania, strippers, and disco!


The Nerd

June 24 – July 31

When Willum has an unexpected party guest, who turns into an unwanted houseguest, he executes an elaborate plan to rid himself of the wacky nuisance. Aided by a rag-tag team that includes friends, a would-be lover and an oblivious boss, creative acts of desperation quickly dissolve into utter mayhem. The twists and turns of this madcap comedy lead to an ending that leaves you feeling happily hoodwinked!


Hank Williams: Lost Highway

July 15 – August 7

Travel the road with country music’s first music star! This musical follows Hank Williams’ journey from backwoods Alabama, to his triumphs on the Grand Ole Opry, and to his self-destruction at twenty-nine. Audiences will be treated to an unforgettable tribute of more than 20 hits, including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Move It on Over”, “Jambalaya”, and “Hey, Good Lookin’”.


The Bikinis: A New Musical Beach Party

October 5 – October 16

Back together again! This favorite girl group from the Jersey Shore reunites to raise money for the good folk s at Sandy Shores Mobile Home Beach Resort. Reliving their heyday from the summer of ’64, these four inseparable friends offer a nonstop celebration of song from their early days through the next two decades. Featuring the hits “Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Will Survive,”and “It’s Raining Men,” The Bikinis is a musical beach party!


Something’s Afoot

October 27 – November 7

Ten people are stranded in an isolated English country house during a raging thunderstorm. Suddenly, one by one they’re picked off by cleverly fiendish devices. As the bodies pile up in the library, the survivors frantically race to uncover the identity and motivation of the cunning culprit. Something’s Afoot is a zany, entertaining musical comedy that takes a satirical poke at Agatha Christie mysteries and musical styles of the English music hall of the ’30s.


A Tuna Christmas

November 30 – December 11

It’s Christmas in the third-smallest town in Texas. Radio news personalities Thurston Wheelis (played by MRT favorite Michael McIntire) and Arles Struvie (played by MRT favorite Sean Riley) report on various Yuletide activities, including the hot competition in the annual lawn-display contest. With the “Christmas Phantom” on the loose and the local Christmas production in peril, there is lots of mayhem to report. In this hilarious sequel to Greater Tuna, two actors play all of the crazy citizens of Tuna, Texas.

The Tracks of Death

A murderer is lurking aboard the famed Orient Express.  Unfortunately for the fiend, the world’s greatest detective is also riding the train.  Will Hercule Poirot be able to solve the baffling killing of a shady businessman?  Find out in Murder on the Orient Express currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

As I stated in a previous review of this production, I’m not going to delve into plot details as I want the audience to experience the story fresh so they get maximum enjoyment out of it.  However, I can say that Ken Ludwig does an admirable job adapting Agatha Christie’s classic novel.  Ludwig stays fairly close to the source material though he does eliminate several characters which is a salient plot point and clue in the novel, but works around it pretty well.  Though known for farce, Ludwig plays this show pretty straight, yet manages to work a little humor into the story with his vaunted wordplay.

Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek’s direction is, on the whole, very accurate and precise.  He cuts a brutally brisk pace which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as Poirot peels back the layers of the case.  His staging is spot on, making us feel the enclosed nature of the train and always well placing his performers so you can see their reactions to the goings-on at any given moment.  Clark-Kaczmarek also proves adept at pulling out some truly masterful performances from his thespians.  That being said, it also seemed like he tried to force a little comedy into the production as several of his actors were a little over the top which made them feel like caricatures instead of characters and didn’t always gel with the more grounded performances.

Some of the highlights of the night were Brennan Thomas who is a pretty mean S.O.B. as the murder victim, Samuel Ratchett.  Olivia Howard gives a beautiful, underplayed performance as the governess, Mary Debenham.  Ethan Dragon gives a master class in animation as the affable, and theatrical, Monsieur Bouc.

Connie Lee dominates her scenes as the obnoxious Helen Hubbard.  When Hubbard starts talking, one starts looking for her off switch as she never shuts up and has a grating personality that would even rub Mr. Rogers the wrong way.  Whether she’s frustrating passengers with late night singing and dancing or flirting with the conductor in an attempt to nab a new husband, Lee simply lights up the stage with her effervescent presence.

Daena Schweiger displays a superior dry wit as Princess Dragomiroff.  Seldom have I seen such potent hilarity come from such monotone delivery.  Schweiger knows just what words to emphasize or phrasing to utilize to get the fullest effect from Dragomiroff’s lines and her verbal sparring with Lee’s Hubbard was one of the show’s shining moments.

Seth Maisel wows in his Playhouse debut with a superb turn as Hercule Poirot.  Maisel easily conveys Poirot’s uber fastidious (bordering on OCD) personality with his hyper attention to details and the wiping of his hands after shaking with an old friend.  He also well communicates his genius with his rapid-fire deductions and ability to see through red herrings.  Maisel also brought a fantastic intensity to the role which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Maisel’s Poirot kowtows to nobody and has a highly developed sense of justice which is put to the test when that sense of justice is challenged by his dedication to the law.  His realization that, for once, justice and the law may not be one and the same leads to a haunting monologue excellently and subtly delivered by Maisel.

Justin Payne’s score had me ready for a night of mystery with its relentless eeriness.  Jim Othuse surpassed himself with this set as the Orient Express became another character with its luxurious sleeping compartments, elegant dining room, and imposing edifice during a scene done on the back of the train.  Lindsay Pape’s costumes were right on the money with the elegant suit of the impeccably dressed Poirot, the doughty dress of the uber religious Greta Ohlsson, or the spiffy uniform of Michel, the conductor highlighting some of her costuming prowess.  John Gibilisco and Tim Burkhart impressed with their sounds whether it be a gunshot, a chugging and braking train, or the flashback effect used on voices during the denouement.

The show will assuredly hold your attention and perhaps even have you white knuckling your armrests at points.  With its blitzkrieg pace, strong writing, assured direction, and solid performances, Murder on the Orient Express does provide a gripping night of mystery.

Murder on the Orient Express runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Oct 10.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

Murder Most Foul Coming to OCP

Seth Maisel stars as Hercule Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express”

Omaha, NE– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express will open Friday, September 17, 2021. The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre through October 10 with performances Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale now starting at $25 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

SYNOPSIS

A thrilling whodunit set aboard the world’s most famous luxury locomotive, Murder on the Orient Express will keep you guessing until the very end. When the Orient Express becomes stranded by a snowstorm, a passenger is found stabbed to death in his private room. With the murderer still on board, a detective must solve the crime before the train reaches its destination.

Directed By: Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek

Cast

Seth Maisel as Hercule Poirot
Brennan Thomas as Samuel Ratchett
Daena Schweiger as Princess Dragomiroff
Connie Lee as Helen Hubbard
Roz Parr as Greta Ohlsson
Billy Ferguson as James Arbuthnot
Jennifer Gilg as Countess Andrenyi
Olivia Howard as Mary Debenham
Brian Priesman as Hector Macqueen
Ethan Dragon as Monsieur Bouc
Jay Srygley as Michel, the Conductor
Adam Bassing as Head Waiter

OCP Needs Some Passengers for the Locomotive of Death

Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is holding auditions for the upcoming production of Murder on the Orient Express on Saturday, July 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Revive! Center Omaha, Sunday, July 11 at 1 p.m. at OCP and Monday, July 12 at 1 p.m. at OCP.

Through upholding high ethical standards, demonstrating respect for all and consciously working to provide diverse representation, OCP is committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment in which all community members feel a sense of belonging, and does not discriminate in casting practices on the basis of an individual’s ethnicity, age, gender, physical and cognitive ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, country of origin or other factors. Omaha Community Playhouse is committed to diverse and inclusive casting.

Production: Murder on the Orient Express

Adapted by: Ken Ludwig

Director: Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek

Show Dates: Sept. 17 – Oct. 10, 2021

Omaha Community Playhouse, Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Performances are Wednesdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre. Actors are called to the theatre one hour before curtain.

Rehearsals: Begin August 1, 2021

Show Synopsis: A thrilling whodunit set aboard the world’s most famous luxury locomotive, Murder on the Orient Express will keep you guessing until the very end. When the Orient Express becomes stranded by a snowstorm, a passenger is found stabbed to death in his private room. With the murderer still on board, a detective must solve the crime before the train reaches its destination.

Roles: Hercule Poirot – Male identifying, all ethnicities: A famous Belgian

Monsieur Bouc – Male identifying, all ethnicities: A Belgian man

Mary Debenham – Female identifying, all ethnicities: A governess

Hector MacQueen – Male identifying, all ethnicities: Rachett’s personal secretary

Michel and Conductor/Marcel – Male identifying, all ethnicities: one actor will play two roles

Princess Dragomiroff – Female identifying, all ethnicities: A Russian dowager

Greta Ohlsson – Female identifying, all ethnicities: Princess Dragomiroff’s traveling companion

Countess Andrenyi – Female identifying, all ethnicities: A countess through marriage

Helen Hubbard – Female indentifying, all ethnicities: an outspoken and flamboyant American from the Midwest

Colonel Arbutnot – Male identifying, all ethnicities: Scotsman

Samuel Rachett – Male identifying, all ethnicities: middle aged American businessman

Auditions: Those who wish to audition may choose one of the following three audition dates:

§ Saturday, July 10, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Revive Center Omaha, 2402 Lizzie Robinson Ave. (24th & Lake), Omaha, NE. 68111

§ Sunday, July 11, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132

§ Monday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68132

Callbacks: Monday, July 19, 7:00 p.m.

Notes: Auditions are by appointment only. Please contact Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com to schedule an audition appointment and request audition paperwork and sides.

Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script provided at auditions.

When arriving to audition at the Playhouse, please enter through the Stage Door entrance on the West side of the building.

Please Bring: All contact information, personal schedules and a list of rehearsal conflicts with which to fill out an audition form. To expedite the check-in process, please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

COVID-19 In accordance with the CDC, if an individual is not vaccinated, they must wear a face mask. If

Protocols: an individual is vaccinated, they can decide whether to wear a face mask or not. All performers are required to be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon casting.

Contact: For more information, contact Becky Deiber at bdeiber@omahaplayhouse.com or (402) 553-4890.