Guthrie Theater presents Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater is preparing to present Agatha Christie’s "Murder on the Orient Express," adapted by Ken Ludwig, directed by RISA Brainin. Brainin, who served as Resident Director at the Guthrie during former Artistic Director Garland Wright’s tenure, returns to helm the adaptation of Christie’s popular novel. Previews begin Saturday, May 13; Opening on Friday, May 19; Playing through Sunday, July 2 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.

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The Guthrie Theater (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) Friday announced the cast and creative team for Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” adapted by Ken Ludwig, directed by Risa Brainin. 

“Murder on the Orient Express” will play May 13 – July 2, 2023, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Single tickets start at $20 for preview performances (May 13–18). All other performances range from $31 to $80.

Artistic Director Joseph Haj said, “There’s a reason ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ has become one of the most frequently produced comedies in the theater. Agatha Christie is the gold standard when it comes to detective fiction and Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of her beloved novel is a fast-paced, comedic adventure filled with extravagant characters, intrigue and satisfying plot twists — theatrical entertainment at its best.” Haj continued, “I’m also honored to welcome former Resident Director Risa Brainin back to the Guthrie for the first time in 25 years, and I look forward to sharing her work with Guthrie audiences.”

Passengers aboard the Orient Express awake to frightful news: Overnight, the American business mogul among them was stabbed to death behind locked doors. Thankfully, debonair detective Hercule Poirot is on the train and on the case. He promptly begins interviewing suspects, securing alibis and forming theories about the killer, who remains at large and could be closing in on the next victim. As the plot thickens and the travelers grow restless, Poirot presents two viable scenarios about who murdered the mogul and why, taking the audience on a wildly glamorous crime-solving ride.

Agatha Christie (1890–1976) is the bestselling novelist of all time. The creator of two famous fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Christie’s body of work includes more than 60 detective novels and 14 short story collections. Among her many plays is “The Mousetrap,” the longest-running play in the world. She launched her lengthy career in 1920 with the publication of “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” which introduced the fastidious, mustachioed detective, Hercule Poirot. Christie developed a reputation for tightly crafted plots, often with a twist, and remains, for many readers, the gold standard in detective fiction. 

“Murder on the Orient Express” was adapted by Ludwig at the request of the Agatha Christie Estate. The play received its world premiere at McCarter Theatre Center in 2017 and its European premiere at the Chichester Festival Theatre in June 2022. This production marks the first work by Christie and Ludwig to be produced by the Guthrie. 

Christie’s beloved novel has also had three notable screen adaptations: the 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave and Albert Finney; the 2017 film directed by Kenneth Branagh; and the 2010 TV adaptation starring David Suchet. 

The cast of Murder on the Orient Express features Michelle Barber (Guthrie: “Other Desert Cities;” “Roman Holiday;” “Caroline,” or “Change”) as Princess Dragomiroff, Katie Bradley (Guthrie: “A Christmas Carol,” “Guys and Dolls,” “South Pacific”) as Countess Andrenyi, China Brickey (Guthrie: “A Christmas Carol”) as Mary Debenham, Jane Froiland (Guthrie: debut) as Greta Ohlsson, Peter Christian Hansen (Guthrie: “Freud’s Last Session,” “Clybourne Park,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”) as Colonel Arbuthnot/Samuel Ratchett, Robert Johansen (Guthrie: debut) as Michel/Head Waiter, Gavin Lawrence (Guthrie: “A Christmas Carol,” “Once in a Lifetime”) as Monsieur Bouc, Andrew May (Guthrie: debut) as Hercule Poirot, Tyler Michaels King (Guthrie: “A Christmas Carol,” “The Tempest,” “West Side Story”) as Hector MacQueen and Sally Wingert (Guthrie: “Twelfth Night,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Noises Off”) as Helen Hubbard. 

The creative team for “Murder on the Orient Express” includes Ken Ludwig (Adapter), Risa Brainin (Director), Rob Koharchik (Scenic Designer), Devon Painter (Costume Designer), Michael Klaers (Lighting Designer), Michael Keck (Sound Designer/Composer), Miko Simmons (Projection Designer), Megan Burns (Vocal Coach), Aaron Preusse (Fight Director), Alessandra Bongiardina (Intimacy), Jennifer Liestman (Resident Casting Director), Karl Alphonso (Stage Manager), Laura Topham (Assistant Stage Manager), Teresa Mock (Assistant Director) and McCorkle Casting, Ltd. (NYC Casting Consultant). 

Relaxed Performance – Sunday, June 11 at 1 p.m.

A relaxed performance is intended to be sensitive to and accepting on any audience member who may benefit from a more relaxed environment. It is intentionally modified to accommodate patrons with sensory and vestibular sensitivities, anxiety, dementia, autism spectrum disorders, learning differences and/or other challenges attending the theater. Single tickets to the relaxed performance of “Murder on the Orient Express” are $29 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 612.377.2224. For more information, visit www.guthrietheater.org/relaxed.

Cat Grant

Catherine (Cat) Grant was a business-savvy media mogul who got her start working as a gossip columnist for the Daily Planet. Cat later became a gossip blogger and eventually the CEO of her own company, CatCo Worldwide Media, a multimedia entertainment and news conglomerate based out of National City. Years after her departure from CatCo, Cat has decided to take a cathartic journey back to her roots. Welcome back to Cat’s Corner.

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