In a new take on a classic mystery, Lewis & Clark Theatre Company brings Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” to the stage at Yankton’s Dakota Theatre.
Show times are Oct. 10-12 and Oct. 18-19 at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Dakota Theatre, 328 Walnut St. Advance tickets are available by messaging the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company (LCTC) on Facebook or by calling 605-665-4711.
Perhaps one of author Agatha Christie’s most popular works, “Murder on the Orient Express” was written in 1933, adapted for the silver screen in 1974 and in 2017 with many other international adaptations in between.
The play is set in the winter of 1934 on the luxurious Orient Express, a direct train from Turkey’s Istanbul to Calais, France. When drifting snow blocks the train’s passage, one of the passengers is found dead, stabbed multiple times, in his berth. It is up to famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, also a passenger on the train, to solve the murder.
The production’s director, Regan Luken, said that Christie fans will find this version more like the book than the movie, but adds that the abbreviated plot and steady pace will be enjoyed by all.
The diverse gallery of characters hails from all over Europe, and LCTC cast members have tried to interpret them as faithfully as possible, including learning the foreign accents associated with the roles.
“The cast is so awesome and their accents. We have a Scottish accent, a Hungarian accent, a Belgian accent and an English accent, and they’ve done such a good job with it,” Luken said. “I think we have some phenomenal talent in our community.”
Lenny Bennett, who plays Poirot, took some time out at a rehearsal to talk to the Press & Dakotan.
“The story itself, you wouldn’t expect the ending, so it is going to be good; it’s going to be powerful,” Bennett said. “It’s thought provoking, it makes you question your morals — things of that nature — so it’s going to be a fun ride.”
Bennet said he found the character of the incredibly exacting and disciplined Poirot interesting, because the case makes him confront his moral inflexibility.
“It makes him question if there’s a gray area,” Bennett said. “With this character, there is never a gray area. There’s wrong and there’s right; there is the law and there is breaking the law. There is no in between.”
Poirot is asked to solve the crime by his friend, Constance Bouc, who runs the Orient Express.
“I think the audience is going to be intrigued all the way through, because there are so many possibilities,” said Theresa Turner, who plays Bouc. “The end is surprising.”
Both the director and the leads noted that, because this is a community theater production, it represents the culmination of a lot of local and volunteer talent working together — not just acting, but lighting, and set and costume creation.
“You are seeing local talent, people that could be your neighbor or someone you see in a retail store,” Turner said. “Come out, expect to see a great show and tell your family and friends.”
Hercule Poirot — Lenny Bennett; Madame Bouc — Theresa Turner; Mary Debenham — Michelle Andrews; Hector MacQueen — Joe Richey; Michel the Conductor/Head Waiter — Josiah Horner; Princess Dragomiroff — Lin Bentrup; Greta Ohlsson — Liz McMillen; Countess Andrenyi — Kristie Taylor; Helen Hubbard — Tara Leonard; Colonel Arthbuthnot — Phil Tau; Daisy Armstrong — Ellison Williams and Kendra Taylor; Mother — Jennifer Williams; Father — Ryan Williams; The Nanny — Miriam
Lights/Sound/Technical — Dejay and Mary Langel
Set Design/Building — Matt Luken and Rob Taylor
Costume Design — Kathy Jorgensen
Assistant Director — Jarrod Anderson and Lily Lawrence
• Sponsors include: Farm Bureau Financial Services, Agent Dan Kolberg
Follow @CoraVanOlson on Twitter.