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BWW Review: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS at Omaha Community Playhouse

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There’s been….. a murder!

BWW Review: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS at Omaha Community Playhouse

There's been..... a murder!

Omaha Community Playhouse opened its next hit "Murder on the Orient Express" last weekend to the sounds of gunshots, screams, and plenty of laughter. Filled with equal parts mystery and comedy, "Murder on the Orient Express" was adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig and is based on the famous Agatha Christie novel of the same name. The show follows world famous detective Hercule Poirot as he works to solve what could possibly be one of the best whodunnits of this century. When a passenger is found dead in his room on board the Orient Express, Poirot takes on the case to catch the killer. But who could it be? Could it be the strong Princess of Dragomiroff of Russia or her sweet travel companion Greta Ohlsson? Could it be Helen Hubbard, the American woman from Minnesota who just loves a good show tune even when it's late at night and the walls are seemingly paper thin? Could it be Countess Andrenyi, the Hungarian counts wife who has her eye on Poirot? Could it be soft spoken English Mary Debenham or her secret Scottish love Colonel Arbuthnot? Or there's Michel, the conductor of the Orient Express, or Hector MacQueen, secretary to an angry American businessman who is also a passenger. Or what if it's Monsieur Bouc, owner of the Orient Express and close friend of Poirot? Eleven people walk into the first class cabins and only ten walk out. Are the passengers on board with a killer, or did someone find a way onto the train and kill one of their fellow passengers? Time is short and the possibilities are endless. Can Poirot find the clues, catch the killer and ensure justice is served before they make it to the next stop?

The creative team of "Murder on the Orient Express" is full of the right talent to tell this story. The costumes and stage design are both perfect for telling the mystery of the Orient Express murder, but that isn't a surprise given the known talents of Lindsay Pape and Jim Othuse and their reputation for producing exceptional work. The music, composed by Justin Payne, lends a hand to creating the world of these characters, and contributes to the production without distracting from the action on stage.

Director Anthony "CK" Clark-Kaczmarek brought out the most from his performers in this production through his smart staging and casting choices. He has assembled a winning cast to tell this story, including some new faces to the Omaha Community Playhouse stage. Leading the ensemble in every way is Seth Maisel, who portrays the brilliant Hercule Poirot. Maisel, who is making his Omaha Community Playhouse debut, is electric and charming, and I would place my bets on him winning an award or two come awards season next year. His line delivery is precise and meaningful, and his accent is believable and easily understood thanks to his excellent diction and support. His performance alone is reason enough to take a trip on the Orient Express. But he isn't alone in delivering a captivating or memorable performance. Omaha favorite Connie Lee delivers a brilliant performance as Helen Hubbard and has the audience laughing out loud on multiple occasions with her witty one-liners and comedic timing. Billy Ferguson makes his Omaha Community Playhouse debut as Colonel Arbuthnot and commands the stage with a loud Scottish accent and deep voice that make it impossible not to think a young Sean Connery is acting up on that stage. His Colonel is grounded and has an unspoken strength about him that is nearly impossible not to believe. Jennifer Gilg and Brian Priesman, who portray Countess Andrenyi and Hector MacQueen respectively, turn out fine performances and show an impressive range of emotion on stage. Ethan Dragon, who portrays Monsieur Bouc, and Jay Srygley, who portrays Michel the Conductor, both have a charm and smile on stage that just make you instantly like them. Brennan Thomas and Daena Schweiger both create some key memorable moments on stage as Samuel Ratchett and Princess Dragomiroff, whether it be a key plot moment or a brilliant moment of comedy and excellent line delivery. And Adam Bassing, who plays multiple roles including the head waiter, Olivia Howard, who plays lovely Mary Debenham, and Roz Parr, who plays sweet Greta Ohlsson, are all strong performers whose performances help to successfully tell this story. The cast is one of the strongest play ensembles I've seen on the Omaha Community Playhouse stage in some time.

Whether you are fan of comedy or mystery, this is a show not to be missed. So be sure to grab your ticket to board the train and spend the evening with the talented cast and crew of "Murder on the Orient Express" at the Omaha Community Playhouse. "Murder on the Orient Express" runs at Omaha Community Playhouse through October 10. For tickets, please visit the Omaha Community Playhouse box office, call 402-553-0800, or visit https://ticketomaha.com/Productions/murder-on-the-orient-express.

Photo Credit: Robertson Photography


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