The supreme cosmic force governing not only the stage but much of life, is timing. Remember Patrick Mahomes and the thirteen seconds? Faulty timing reduces the greatest talent to mediocrity and the most inspired stagecraft to bumbling ineptitude.
Amarillo LIttle Theatre’s recently-completed mainstage run of Murder on the Orient Express, pegged the timing down to the nano-second, and the ensuing collaboration of characters and staging produced a triumph!
The play embraces a favorite Shakespearean motif: the conflict between the apparent and the real. So, Murder becomes a play within a play with all but two of the characters portraying alternate personas to mask their true identities.
The Agatha Christie estate commissioned Ken Ludwig to craft a stage adaption of the iconic Whodunnit. The interpretation of the playwright along with the artistic vision of ALT’s directors, cast and crew did credit to the late legendary dame.
Though not listed in cast, one of the main players in this drama was the stage. Director Jason Crispin and his team did a deep dive into creative scene management that utilized multi-purpose modules which effected seamless changes in a matter of seconds.
And, to literally top it all off, a screen running atop the length of the stage, captured the passing landscape and changing weather conditions imparted a realistic view from the passengers’ perspectives
Each member of the cast effectively portrayed credible characters, not, in the words of an ALT employee, just caricatures. That quality was born out in the multinational melange of accents and dialects demanded by the script: try Hungarian; Swedish; French; Russian; Scottish; New York City; English; American. That the cast maintained variegated linguistic purity with nary a slip into Panhandle-Plains patois is a testimony to talent.
We note only three of this stellar dramatis personae: Carrie Huckaby; Brooks Boyett: Michael Newman. Carrie Huckaby gave a credible portrayal of the brash, self-seeking Helen Howard, whose true identity, agenda and ultimate volte face seeded the genesis of the plot.
Brooks Boyett, a really nice young man, could film his own Despicable Me from his cringe worthy portrayal of the child-abducting murderer Samuel Ratchett. Brook’s role inspired no tears of audience sympathy at his own well-earned demise.
Finally, Michael Newman was flawless as Hercule Poirot. His role incorporated not only the accent, noted above, but the subtle nuances of non-verbal expression endemic to the French character.
Kudos to cast and crew for delivering a stage production far above the pay grade of the ticket cost!
And quality theatre is just one of the reasons the arts in Amarillo astound and amaze.
Thus we offer the benediction: Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!