BWW Review: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is a Fun Ride at Bellevue Little Theatre
It's murder in the Bellevue Little Theatre.
Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Jon Flower) needs to catch the Orient Express during a heavy snowfall. That train is never filled during this time of year, but for some reason, today is an exception. Monsieur Constantine Bouc (Gene Hinkle) exerts his authority to book his friend Poirot into his first class cabin. During the ride to London, Samuel Ratchett (Justin Eller), an insufferable American business man, is found murdered. He has been stabbed 8 times. Super sleuth Poirot undertakes solving the mystery, knowing the murderer must be one of the passengers onboard. Everyone is present and accounted for. There are no footprints in the snow. Rumors of seeing a man stalking about the train dressed in a conductor's uniform compounds the mystery. The clues are dealt one at a time begging for solution.
Jon Flower is spot on with a consistent European accent and dignified persona. He leads a fine cast of colorful characters. There is the brash Mrs. Hubbard (D. Laureen Pickle) who considers herself quite the catch, but who is really an aging cougar who finds her own jokes hilarious. Princess Dragonmiroff (Phyllis Bonds) and Countess Andrenyi (Chloe Rosman) add royalty in beautiful dress and manner. Greta Ohlsson (Debbie Cline) lends a touch of the spiritual. Col Arbuthnot (Thomas Stoysich) and Mary Debenham (Kaitlin Maher) provide the obligatory romantic entanglement, hiding in corners and stealing kisses. Marcel/Michel (Jeff Garst) and Hector McQueen (Michael Taylor-Steward) add to the mix as conductor and secretary to Ratchett. Each character is clearly defined and acted out with disparate personalities. They are amusing to watch, not only because they are more caricature than character, but because each carries a certain charm which translates well on the stage.
Wrapped in my jacket against the chill of the theatre, I could have easily nodded off, but the well enacted clever script kept me alert. I hadn't seen the movie; therefore, I was not prepared for the ending, which was quite smart. There's an ethical question begging to be answered and I wondered myself what I would have done.
This is a really fun play. I enjoyed the script, the acting, and the set. The set designed by Joey Lorincz employs a rotating platform on which three rooms are staged. There is the dining car, the sleeping cars, and the back portion of the train where the conductor is seen to radio for help in the snowstorm. Todd Uhrmacher does a wonderful job keeping the set moving and the plot thickening. I really did not know "Who-dunit?" until the conclusion. They kept me guessing.
Performances run through February 2 (Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2:00)