Cortland Rep Opens 51st Summer Season With MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

Written by one of America's premiere playwrights, Ken Ludwig, CRT's production returns to the Little York Pavilion in Preble.

By: May. 30, 2023
Cortland Rep Opens 51st Summer Season With MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
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Cortland Rep Opens 51st Summer Season With MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

For the first production in their 51st annual summer season, Cortland Repertory Theatre revisits their regional premiere of the stage adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.

Written by one of America's premiere playwrights, Ken Ludwig, CRT's production returns to the Little York Pavilion in Preble, having been cancelled last summer after two performances. This year, the show will run from June 7 – 16 with evening shows at 7:30 PM.  Matinees are also available on June 9, 10, 11 and 14 at 2:00 PM.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 800-427-6160 or by visiting the CRT Box Office at 24 Port Watson Street in Cortland. Tickets are also available through with ETIX, for a small additional charge. CRT cautions that ETIX is the only approved online ticket service; others charge significantly higher rates for tickets and are not approved by CRT. The GPS address for the Little York Pavilion is 6799 Little York Lake Road in Preble.

This imaginative stage adaptation of Christie's most popular mystery takes the audience on an elegant but ill-fated train trip. On a winter's evening in 1934, a snowdrift stops the luxurious Orient Express literally in its tracks. By morning, it is one passenger less; the victim lies dead in their compartment, stabbed, the door locked from the inside. With a long list of suspects, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer before they strike again. While the novel has seen film and radio adaptations, this is the first stage version, which is being produced across the country in many regional theatres. Whether the story is familiar or not to the viewer, surprises are in store for everyone.

Murder on the Orient Express is directed by CRT's Producing Artistic Director Kerby Thompson, who has previously won Syracuse Area Live Theatre awards for directing Our Town and Saturday Night Fever. Also at CRT, he has directed two other Christie plays - Cards on the Table, An Appointment with Death - as well as Mamma Mia!, Million Dollar Quartet, 1776 and many others. Stage Manager Melanie Ernst will lead the production, with all the design team members returning from last summer, including Darin V. Himmerich (scenic), Wendi R. Zea (costumes), Seth Asa Sengel (sound), Matthew Webb (lighting) and Taylor Barr (properties). Dialect coaches Blake A. Segal and Celia Madeoy join the production, adding to Deena Conley's dialect coaching from last summer. Talene Pogharian joins the production as Assistant Stage Manager.

Michael Antico, previously seen at CRT in Born Yesterday and Newsies, returns to the pivotal role of detective Hercule Poirot. Most cast members from last summer's production are also returning including Nicholas Wilder (seen in CRT's The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged and The 39 Steps) as Orient Express owner Monsieur Bouc, Catherine Gaffney (Over the River and Through the Woods, Our Town) as boisterous American Helen Hubbard, Bill Coughlin (Over the River…, Born Yesterday) as shady businessman Samuel Ratchett, Mikey LoBalsamo (Hair, Kiss Me Kate) as his long-suffering assistant, Hector MacQueen, and two additional actresses from last summer's production of Over the River…: Cara D'Emanuele as Princess Dragomiroff and Alice K. Johnson as Mary Debenham. Anna Gion as Countess Andrenyi, and Rebecca Tucker as Greta Ohlsson also return from last summer's Orient production. Joining the cast this year are Derek Powell (Kiss Me Kate) as Michel, the train conductor, and Jamie Craib in his CRT debut as Colonel Arbuthnot. Completing the cast is Weston Pytel, a 2022 CRT performing intern, who returns to the role of the head waiter and as understudy for Mr. Antico and Mr. Coughlin.

CRT's 2023 performing intern company will take on understudy roles for this production.  Aubrey Alvino and Breanna Lemerise will understudy Ms. Johnson and Ms. Gion, Mai Caslowitz for Ms. Tucker, Jessica Cerreta for Ms. Gaffney and Ms. D'Emanuele, Michael Hartman for Mr. LoBalsamo and Mr. Craib, and Trevor Shingler for Mr. Wilder and Mr. Powell.

CRT offers a “Friday Night Talk Back” after the evening performance on June 9, at which a Q & A session with the actors, director, designers, and crew takes place. Tickets are available for all of CRT's upcoming summer productions including Xanadu, Unnecessary Farce, The Cake and The Wizard of Oz, and the CRT Children's Theatre production of The Emperor's New Clothes. Visit for exact times, dates and additional information.


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