Skip to main content

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Arrives in Southern California

If the success of Kenneth Branagh’s big-screen remake of Murder on the Orient Express was any indication last year, audiences are still craving for a well-crafted whodunit loaded with a long list of suspects. (Case in point: a remake of Death on the Nile is also in the works at 20th Century Fox.)
That’s probably why Southern California is the place to find the West Coast premiere of the first-ever stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s seminal mystery, thanks to the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and Executive Producers Tom McCoy and Cathy Rigby (of McCoy Rigby Entertainment).
This new take on Murder, which has been adapted by two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig and directed by Sheldon Epps, the Artistic Director Emeritus at Pasadena Playhouse, should thrill and surprise Agatha Christie loyalists.
The thrill comes from seeing a recreation of the titular train on stage, particularly two cars in which a majority of the action takes place. Stephen Gifford’s impressive designs of these massive mobile platforms is a sight to behold, though sometimes a distraction from the players who are so game to bring these iconic characters to life.

The surprise comes from the liberties taken regarding the characters and overall tone. To make the staging (and running time) more manageable, Christie’s original dozen of suspects has been trimmed down to eight. Look carefully, and you’ll notice that a couple of the actors are also pulling double duty; Matthew Floyd Miller appears as both Colonel Arbuthnot and the villainous Samuel Ratchett. The actor manages to have fun jumping between a Scottish brogue and a New York gangster during the first act.
And mystery buffs may also be surprised to discover that some comedy has been injected into this adaptation. “I think the genres of comedy and mystery have a lot in common,” Ludwig explains. “Both start with the puzzle assembled, and suddenly the pieces are taken apart and thrown into the air. And then they finally come down, and all is well.” The result works, giving us an enjoyable spin on an efficiently run machine that has been chugging along ever since audiences first laid their eyes on director Sidney Lumet’s masterful 1974 interpretation.
The cast of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express features Tony Amendola as the world-famous detective Hercule Poirot and as well as (in alphabetical order) Julia Aks as Greta Ohlsson, Hope Noel Bradley as Daisy Armstrong (in the attention-grabbing prologue), a perfectly neurotic Will Block as Hector MacQueen, Anne Gee Byrd as Princess Dragomiroff, Brad Culver as Michel the Conductor, a scene-chewing Christine Dunford as Helen Hubbard, Zarah Mahler as Countess Andrenyi, Rachel Seiferth as Mary Debenham and Time Winters as Monsieur Bouc.
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express runs now through November 11 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at or by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box Office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. Student, Senior and group discounts are available. $15 Student Tickets available for the first 15 performances.


Popular posts from this blog

13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Golden Girls'

When one nostalgically binges on all seven seasons of The Golden Girls like me (I swear I have a life), you pick up on a few things. Certain patterns appear as you continuously witness the consumption of countless cheesecakes inside a fictitious Miami kitchen and hear one St. Olaf story too many.

Here's what I noticed after playing my DVDs of this 80s classic over the past several months (and if you're already familiar with the following factoids, excuse me for underestimating your fanaticism)...

1. Actor Harold Gould, who played Rose's long-term boyfriend Miles Webber from Season 5 to Season 7 (and throughout most of the short-lived spinoff, The Golden Palace), also appears in the first season as Arnie Peterson, Rose's first serious beau after her husband's death.

2. The same can be said for Sid Melton, who played Sophia's deceased husband Sal (in flashbacks and dream sequences). He also appears in a Season 6 episode as a jester in a medieval-themed restauran…

Just Because: 9 Music Videos That Take Place in Laundromats

It's one of the biggest music video tropes that's rarely explored in pop culture.

The public laundromat has become a go-to location for artists when making a music video for a single they wish to sell to the masses.

But WHAT IS IT about a space where ragtag groups of strangers gather to fluff and fold their delicates? Is it the obvious metaphor of dirty versus clean? The scintillating possibility of people stripping off their clothes for a wash?

I was feeling a little nostalgic (as usual) and took a look at some of the vids that have fallen under the spell of spin cycles over the past 30 years...


Back in the early 90s, the Christian pop tart followed up her massively successful "Baby Baby" with "Every Heartbeat," a personal childhood favorite of yours truly (the Body & Soul Mix, of course). In one of the two vignettes featured in the video, a laundry-toting hottie attempts to flirt with a young woman who re…

The Year My Childhood Was Literally Destroyed: Remembering Blessed Sacrament Elementary

2020 is already proving to be an emotionally challenging and bizarre year -- to put it mildly.

Barely three months in, our world is being filled with near-dystopian levels of absurdity. While watching an increasingly corrupt and inept administration fumble through the dawn of a global pandemic (the likes of which have already claimed the health of national treasure Tom Hanks), I recently learned that Blessed Sacrament Elementary, the school I attended from the ages of 4 to 14, will be demolished to make way for (what else?) modern, state-of-the-art residences. These sleek and stylish apartments (see a rendering below) are to accommodate the influx of Manhattan commuters who have been gradually populating the downtown sector of my hometown, New Rochelle, New York...which also happens to be the location of the first COVID-19 containment zone in the U.S.

But this isn't about the coronavirus and the panic it has rapidly spread, prompting everyone and their Boomer parents to go out an…