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‘Murder on the Orient Express’

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The train has left the station for Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria’s fall production of Agatha Christie's “Murder on the Orient Express.” This play, which opened Nov. 12, marks the school’s first production in front of a live audience since “Little Women” in November 2019. After months of preparation, the 2020 spring musical, “Freaky Friday,” was canceled a week before its March 20 opening night. November 2020’s “Obstacles,” a series of 10-minute plays, was performed live but to an empty theater and livestreamed to online viewers, while the spring’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing” was performed online. “Murder on the Orient Express” marks a return to “normal” theater, though a number of COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place.

The show, set in Europe in 1934, tells the story of the famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot’s journey aboard the Orient Express. During the train ride, a passenger is found stabbed to death in his compartment. With the train stopped due to a snowdrift, Poirot must identify the killer from among the passengers before they reach their destination.

Ireton’s theater department looks markedly different than it did during “Little Women.” Only a handful of cast members have performed in pre-pandemic shows, and between 2019 and now, the director of theater arts has passed from Joanna Henry, who remains involved as assistant director, to Kathryn Rice. Still, the entire cast was very excited to get the chance finally to perform live once again, or for the first time. Additionally, the return to in-person rehearsals for a full production was a wonderful experience for those missing the sense of camaraderie. Junior Allison Dunnegan, who plays Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson, said, “Once I stepped into our first rehearsal all together, I was reminded of not just how much I love theater, but how much I love the people in it.” In addition to the cast, the stage crew and costuming departments worked tirelessly to prepare for the show.

As the season of gratitude and thanksgiving approaches, everyone involved is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to return to live theater and also looks forward to the upcoming spring production of “Anastasia,” which will be the first musical since spring 2019.

If you go

“Murder on the Orient Express” will be performed Nov. 19 and 20, 7 p.m. To buy tickets, go to brownpapertickets.com/event/5288985.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021