Margaret Zatloukal, Ryan Hartwell, Peter Cook, Michael Schmidt, and Chris Clark rehearse for VCS’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.” Madison Miller/staff photo

Margaret Zatloukal, Ryan Hartwell, Peter Cook, Michael Schmidt, and Chris Clark rehearse for VCS’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.” Madison Miller/staff photo

Murder and mystery comes to the Valley

“Murder on the Orient Express” debuts at Valley Center Stage Feb. 14.

Murder, intrigue and mystery are coming to the Valley this Valentine’s Day.

Valley Center Stage (VCS) will debut Agatha Christie’s classic murder-mystery, “Murder on the Orient Express,” on Feb. 14.

According to VCS’s play description, Christie’s infamous Hercule Poirot is a world-renowned and highly respected detective. In “Murder on the Orient Express,” a train is stopped dead in its tracks by an avalanche and a passenger is murdered. Poirot must work quickly to solve the crime before the murderer strikes again. With a train full of suspects and an alibi for each one, it is the perfect mystery for Poirot to solve.

Directed by VCS Brenden and Wynter Elwood, the seasoned VCS directors said they are excited to bring the murder-mystery classic — with a humorous twist — to the community.

“We’re doing the Ken Ludwig adaptation, so it has a funny spin on the story,” Wynter Elwood said.

Elwood said she thought the Agatha Christie classic would be a hit with the Valley community because of the local adoration of trains.

“We hear the train whistle every weekend, and it’s such a large part of our community,” she said.

Though the production lost a few days to snow, Elwood said everything is right on schedule.

“We have such a crazy talented cast, and we’ve been able to keep up even with the lost rehearsals,” she said.

The cast is filled with several well-known VCS actors.

Michael Schmidt stars as Hercule Poirot, the murder-solving french detective. For Schmidt, a Two Rivers School English and drama teacher, this is his second VCS production.

“I love Agatha Christie. She’s definitely a family favorite,” Schmidt said. “It’s great to step into such a classic.”

While it’s his second VCS show, this is his largest acting role and his first one speaking in a french accent.

“I’ve been watching French movies and studying through YouTube videos,” he said. “It’s difficult to speak in a French accent and project for an audience.”

Brynne Garman is a longtime VCS actor. This is Garman’s fifth show at VCS and her first time acting in “Murder on the Orient Express” as Helen Hubbard. For Garman, who commutes to rehearsals from Bellevue, it’s the teamwork of community theater that keeps her coming back.

“I really enjoy the camaraderie and the supportive community here,” she said. “I enjoy meeting new people and working with different actors.”

Julia Buck also is a longtime VCS actor and has acted in at least one production each season for the last few years. This is her first time acting in an Agatha Christie play.

“I love working with this talented group of people,” she said. “And this story, I have always loved Agatha Christie, and I love working with Brenden and Wynter, so it seemed like the perfect show.”

Elwood said she looks forward to bringing Agatha Christie to the Valley and hopes to produce more Agatha Christie shows.

“We always try to bring a rich array of shows in order to continue to grow and enhance the entertainment to the community,” Elwood said.

“Murder on the Orient Express” debuts at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 and runs through March 1. For tickets, go online to http://valleycenterstage.org/.


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Madison Miller/staff photo
                                Michael Schmidt stars as Hercule Poirot and Chris Clark as M. Bouc in VCS’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Madison Miller/staff photo Michael Schmidt stars as Hercule Poirot and Chris Clark as M. Bouc in VCS’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Michael Schmidt, Chris Clark, Becky Rappin, Ryan Hartwell and Margaret Zatloukal rehearse one of the final scenes in VCS’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.” Madison Miller/staff photo

Michael Schmidt, Chris Clark, Becky Rappin, Ryan Hartwell and Margaret Zatloukal rehearse one of the final scenes in VCS’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express.” Madison Miller/staff photo

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