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Murder on the Orient Express kicks off CT's 35th Year!

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Classic murder mystery will open anniversary season

The Cumberland Theatre will officially open their 35th Anniversary Season with the classic murder mystery Murder on the Orient Express on Friday, February 10th. A celebration gala is planned to follow the performance which includes complimentary refreshments, a champagne toast, prizes and the announcement of the Cumberland Theatre Patron of the Year award. There is no additional cost to attend the gala. It is included in the ticket cost for that evening’s performance.

Written in 1934 by Agatha Christie, and loosely based on the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby, the story focuses on an unlikely group of passengers aboard one of the most famous railways in the world. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed eight times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, the passengers rely on detective Hercule Poirot to identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

The novel has been recreated on television, the silver screen and the stage several times over. The most recent incarnation was the 2017 film starring Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfieffer and Kennth Branagh. This clever stage adaptation by Ken Ludwig boasts all the glamour, intrigue and suspense of Dame Agatha's celebrated novel, with a healthy dose of humor to quicken the pace.

CT’s upcoming rendition features both local and visiting actors and marks the debut of several new faces to the theatre’s stage. The role Hercule Poirot, Christie’s famous detective – who has been embodied by the likes of Albert Finney, Alfred Molina and Branagh will be filled by Michael P. Sullivan. Based in Baltimore, MD, Sullivan has been a member of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company for over 15 years. Favorite roles at include: Dracula in Dracula, Julius Caesar in Julius Caesar, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Titus in Titus Andronicus He began his professional career as a reporter for WHAG-TV working in Cumberland.

Michael P. Sullivan will portray Hercule Poirot

Also make their CT debuts will be Reiner Prochaska as Monsieur Bouc and Mindy Shaw as Helen Hubbard. Prochaska is an actor, playwright, filmmaker and novelist from Frederick, MD. He has been a member of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre since 2005. Shaw has performed in NY, LA, DC, and FL and is currently based in Illinois. Before being transported to the Midwest Mindy worked extensively in and around Washington, DC. She can be seen in the feature filmsBurntHickory,I Like Me, andThe American Dreamand numerous award-winning short films.

Returning to the CT stage from last season’s production of Macbeth will be Joe Staton as Hector MacQueen and Mark Worth as Michel the Conductor. Staton is a British actor, director, and producer based in New York City. Worth is based out of the Central Atlantic and New York area and has been acting for film and stage since age eight. Most recently, he was cast in the national tour of Encore!

Other CT veteran actors joining the cast are Alexandra Shephard as Greta Ohllson, Seth Thompson as Samuel Ratchett and Kimberli Rowley as Countess Adrenyi. Shephard has appeared in several CT shows including Company, Macbeth and Ring of Fire. Thompson was seen last season as Lee in True West and the title role in Macbeth. Rowley is the current Artistic Director of the theatre and was last seen on stage as Barbara in August: Osage County.

Completing the cast are newcomers and visiting actors Adian Chapman and Brenna Peerbolt and local actor Ellen McDaniel-Weissler. All three are making their first appearance with Cumberland Theatre. Chapman is an actor, writer and director comedian from Richmond, Virginia. Peerbolt is originally from Holland, Michigan but now resides in New York City where she graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. McDaniel-Weissler has been working in professional theatre since the 1980’s. She has appeared across the nation in Tulsa, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, New York, and Philadelphia–and, of course, Cumberland, where she currently resides with her family.

The production is under the direction of Kimberli Rowley with assistant direction by Seth Thompson. The design team is comprised of Rhett Wolford (set and lighting), Joel Hoover (costumes) and Trevor McCabe (props). Nicole Mattis will serve as the dialect coach. The run crew consists of Hayden Kline (stage manager), Elizabeth Mudge (assistant stage manager), Tyler Gilks (deck crew) and Jack Tabb (deck crew).

The show is being sponsored by Doug Schwab & Betsey Hurwitz Schwab, Mary Splain Shrout and Chessie Federal Credit Union. The concession stand for the show is being sponsored by Allegany College of Maryland and will feature signature cocktails in the theme of the show.

Performances are February 9th – 19th with Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. The gala opening reception is included in the ticket price for February 10th. More information on ratings, group sale, etc can be found on where single tickets are available for purchase as well as 2023 Season Passes.

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