Folks are invited to head over to Delta Center Stage for an evening of mystery and laughs for their upcoming production of “Murder on the Orient Express.”
Adapted from the popular Agatha Christie novel, the show is written by comedic playwright Ken Ludwig and is new to the theater stage. With a locomotive full of suspects and an alibi for each one, it’s the perfect mystery for detective Hercule Poirot.
“This is the first time this very well-known story amongst older generations has been told on the stage,” Bixler said. “It was still in manuscript form, it hadn’t even been published when we first got the script.”
Many of Ludwig’s shows have been performed at DCS, including “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Fox on the Fairway.”
With three movies made after the novel, Bixler said the plot isn’t a mystery for many, but will still be fun to experience on the live stage.
“It’s very well known, but for those who haven’t seen it before in younger generations, it will be quite a surprise,” Bixler said.
With several veteran DCS actors acting the roles of the show’s many colorful characters, Bixler said the show is a fun-filled, family friendly production.
“It’s a good, experienced group, it’s been a fun play to do,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun. The characters are all over the top.”
Only dealing with 360 square feet of platforming to stage the show, which takes place aboard the train, Bixler said the stage design has been an interesting challenge.
“It’s great fun to watch. It moves very quickly, it’s a fast-paced show that rocks you right along and takes you right to the end where if you haven’t seen the movie or heard the story before, you go, ‘Oh my goodness, what an ending.’”
Playing the part of famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, Dave Adams said he consulted on his Belgian English accent from his own Belgium-born mother to make the character as authentic as possible.
All the actors, Adams said, have worked hard to make the show as great as possible.
“We have a very good cast and the show should bear that out when it opens next week. Tim Bixler does a great job getting a good show together and there is a lot of collaboration. It is a fun process,” he said.
Adams said he encourages more people in the community to get involved with the plays.
“If you have ever given consideration to participating in a play or musical here, give it a whirl. Our family didn’t take a stab at it until five years ago, but all of us have found it a great way to get to know and be part of our community. Delta Center Stage has done it very well for 40 years now and, it seems year after year, the bar keeps getting raised,” he said.
Lara Gann, who plays the part of Greta Ohlsson, said her character is a sort of strange, slightly “off” but very religious Swedish woman whose ultimate goal in life, thus far, is to become a missionary in Africa.
“It’s been so much fun to play around with her character and bring her to life,” she said.
A veteran DCS actor since childhood, Gann said this has been a fun, yet unique, show to participate in.
“The whole process for this particular production has felt very different from other shows I’ve been in. The atmosphere has been very laid back but there’s still that underlying ‘Let’s get the job done’ vibe,” she said. “We all know we’re there to reach a common goal and that’s very apparent but we also know how to have fun. The whole cast has been such a delight to work alongside and it’s a little bittersweet that we only have a few more days left together.”
In the role as Constantine Bouc, actor Warren Johnson said his character runs the company, the Orient Express, and is the only person in the show who doesn’t quite understand what is happening.
“He’s kind of the only one in the play who doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s very oblivious to everything that’s going on around him,” Johnson said. “Throughout the course of the play, he’s kind of with the audience as you go through the journey of what happened.”
Johnson said his role has been fun to portray.
“It’s fun to play. He thinks he understands what’s going on until the end,” he said.
“Murder on the Orient Express” is set to run Nov. 14-17 and will also be this season’s annual dinner theater for two nights.
The dinner theater, which will be Nov. 15-16, costs $30 for DCS members and $50 for non-members. Dinner will be prepped by Stamson’s Restaurant and reservations are required.
For those attending the dinner theater, hospitality opens at 6:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 7 p.m. with curtain at 7:30 p.m.
Bixler said he is still taking reservations for the dinner shows until Tuesday. Those wanting to book reservations to a dinner show need to call Bixler at 662-820-5489.
The Thursday, Nov. 14, and Sunday, Nov. 17, shows will be standard seating. Adult general admission costs $10 and student or youth ages 16 and younger cost $6.
Curtain will open at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-16 and the Sunday matinee curtain will open at 2:30 p.m.
Make reservations for the dinner show by calling Bixler at 662-820-5489 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit deltastage.com.