MASTER MYSTERY WRITER AGATHA CHRISTIE
Mystery, intrigue, clues, suspects, motives, opportunities, victims and alibis are all riding side by side, Army uniform to elegant gowns, on the exotic Orient Express. On a luxury train bound from Istanbul to Calais, France, the engineer is that master novelist Agatha Christie and the inquiring conductor is that ingenious detective from Belgium Hercule Poirot. Sit back in the comfort of your compartment seat at Hartford Stage’s train station until Sunday, March 25 as “Murder on the Orient Express” roars into fantastic view.With a clever and complicated adaptation by Ken Ludwig, you will discover a bevy of likely candidates for the stabbing death of a passenger, a highly disagreeable Samuel Ratchett,a man who has been receiving death threats before he climbed on board. He tries, unsuccessfully, to engage the services of Monsieur Poirot to protect him by discovering who is sending him the deadly missives but he is rebuffed.When it is revealed that Ratchett is actually the kidnapper of a young girl Daisy Armstrong, (Jordyn Elizabeth Schmidt) whose wealthy family pays the ransom but she is still killed, the list of suspects suddenly includes everyone on the train as well as the employees. David Pittu’s Poirot quickly has his hands full as he interrogates Princess Dragomiroff (Veanne Cox) and her bumbling helper Greta Ohlsson (Samantha Steinmetz),Colonel Arbuthnot (Ian Bedford) who is engaging is a secret relationship with Mary Debenham (Susannah Hoffman), Helen Hubbard (Julie Halston) an outspoken American who likes to sing Broadway tunes and flirt with Michel (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) the chief train porter, Monsieur Bouc (Charles Paul Mihaliak) the train company's manager and an old friend of Poirot ’s, Hector McQueen (Juha Sorola) Ratchett’s right hand man and the elegant and helpful Countess Andrenyl (Leigh Ann Larkin) who is always eager to assist Poirot.Who has a motive or better yet, who doesn’t have one? As the train is delayed by a snow storm and communications are cut off from the police and rescue team, the fear and suspicions grow. As Agatha Christie is so masterful in her writing, she tosses in a few red herrings to send you in false directions while insinuating clues as to the real culprit. Never doubt that this reliable detective will handle his task with speed and diplomacy, even if it is not focused on your main suspect.Beowulf Boritt’s intriguing scenic design is evident in every shiny spoke of the locomotive while William Ivey Long has a lovely job of dressing all the suspects, under the illuminating lighting of Ken Billington and the distinct sound design of Darron L. West. Emily Mann directs this involving mystery that is sure to captivate your imagination, one that originated at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey.For tickets ($25-90), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances areTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Check on line for all the special events.No need to come with a magnifying glass or fingerprint dusting powder as that dapper detective Hercule Poirot is on his game. Just stay alert and observant and see if you can spot the culprit before he does.