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Open auditions for “Murder on the Orient Express”

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Agatha Christie is widely considered as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her works have been outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Christie is best known for her authorship of 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. One of them being her classic Murder on the Orient Express, which ranks second in the World Favourite Christie poll of 2015. It first appeared as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post, this popular masterwork has been adapted twice as major motion pictures and once as a BBC radio play.

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Now this timeless production, featuring the signature detective Hercule Poirot, will be performed on stage at Live Oak Theatre in Brooksville; serving as the theater’s 2022-23 Season Opener. And the public is invited “along for the ride” and urged to participate in open auditions for the production. Live Oak Theatre Company (LOT) is a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) repertory company of local artists, located at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville.

Director Katie Marra will hold auditions for “Murder on the Orient Express” on Saturday, June 18th, from 10am-1pm. The murder mystery will be performed from September 23 through October 9. This is an audition open to both members and non-members of the repertory company. “I have been a fan of mysteries my whole life from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and everything in between,” said Director Marra. “Getting to direct a play that brings the air of intrigue to life is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

This audition will require participants to recite prepared readings from the script, with those trying out prepared to show their ability to become the character for which they are auditioning. “All main stage auditions at Live Oak are open auditions!” explained Marra. “This play calls for specific talents including believable and consistent accents as well as keeping any actor from relying on a flashy musical number. To get the best end product for our audience, we like to branch out, letting as many new faces as possible have the opportunity to audition.”

“I’m looking for a real connection between the actor and their character as well as between the characters during the audition process. This audition will be a little different as anybody that would like to audition needs to prepare sides for the desired character(s),” said Marra. “They can get these by emailing [email protected] with the desired character they’d like to audition for prior to June 18th. Auditions will be from 10am-1pm.”

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Live Oak spokesman Vince Vanni also sees this production as a way for aspiring cast members to connect with Live Oak. “This is an ideal opportunity for people to audition for our repertory company. The stress level is a lot lower than normal,” he explained. “There are no vocal or dance auditions for the play. Candidates will be judged simply on their ability to act and become one of the specific characters. Director Katie Marra is also giving every candidate a complete description of each character as well as the actual pages she will be using for the readings.”
This promises to be a special and very audience-friendly production for Live Oak. “The production will continue to utilize our thrust stage, something that seems to be rarely done with straight plays,” said Marra. “The goal is for the audience to feel like they are on the Orient Express with the characters. Live Oak continually works to engage their audiences through immersion and I feel this production should be no different.”

For those who wish to audition, Marra has prepared detailed character descriptions for public review. “As we close this season we are jumping right into the next!” she said. “Due to the intricacy of this show, we felt it necessary to offer this description of characters and the accents they will require in the show.” To view those descriptions, please go to this article posted on the Hernando Sun website.

To audition for Murder on the Orient Express, those interested are asked to email [email protected] for sides and familiarize themselves with the scenes pertaining to the characters they are interested in before the audition date. “I encourage everyone who has been looking for an opportunity to join us, to go on our website or Facebook page and look for the announcements,” said Vanni.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:

Detective Hercule Poirot
Gender – Male
Age Range – 40-65
Accent – Belgian
Sides – Pgs. 12-13 (monologue), 18, & 43
“Agatha Christie’s most famous detective. Poirot is fastidious, thorough, a touch ridiculous, and incredibly observant and intelligent. He is both arrogant and humble to fault. He is an observer of people, astute at analyzing why people behave as they do, and firmly believes that most crimes can be solved primarily by observation, psychology, and thinking them through. He values intelligence and the rule of law above all else.” (Carries the bulk of the lines throughout the show.)

Monsieur Bouc
Gender – Male
Age Range – 40-64
Accent – Belgian

Sides – Pgs. 18, 24, & 43
“The owner of Wagon Lit, Orient Express. Bouc is a middle-aged man with a youthful vigor and attitude. Gregarious, honest and forthright, he puts his friends and customers above profit, although he is concerned about his company’s image. He is not a match for Poirot in intelligence, however.”

Mary Debenham
Gender – Female
Age Range – mid 20s-30s
Accent – English (standard)
Sides – Pg. 35
“A governess. Anxious, but also cool and determined, Mary has a certain sadness about her, as well as many secrets. She is carrying on a secret affair with Colonel Arbuthnot.”

Colonel Arbuthnot
Gender – Male
Age Range – 30s
Accent – Scottish
Sides – Pg. 35
“A military man of the old-fashioned type, possibly old-money, and used to being obeyed without question. He is strong, charismatic, but also problematic in some of his personal views. Has a temper.”

Hector MacQueen
Gender – Male
Age Range – 23-35
Accent – American
Sides – Pgs. 16 & 21
“Personal assistant and secretary to Samuel Ratchett, MacQueen is a nervous character with a stutter that appears when he is especially anxious. Seems rather new to his profession. Talks a bit too much.”

Michel (Doubles as Head Waiter)
Gender – Male
Age Range – 40s
Accent – French (Michel) & Turkish (Head Waiter)
Sides – Pgs. 18 (Turkish), 20 & 24 (French)
“Competent and organized, Michel is the conductor for the first-class carriages of the Orient Express. Handles himself well in a crisis and is very good at his job.
Note: This actor will double as the Head Waiter of the Tokatlian Hotel and will also need to be able to do a Turkish accent.”

Princess Dragomiroff
Gender – Female
Age Range – 60s-70s
Accent – Russian
Sides – Pgs. 19 & 20
“Displaced Russian nobility. The Princess is a battleship: determined, arrogant, and accustomed to getting her way. She travels a great deal and holds very decided opinions.”

Greta Ohlsson
Gender – Female
Age Range – 30s
Accent – Swedish
Sides – Pgs. 19 & 20
“A Catholic missionary and baby nurse currently serving as a companion to Princess Dragomiroff. She would like to help small children in Africa. Deeply devout. This character may be funny but should not be played as a caricature for laughs.”

Countess Andrenyi
Gender – Female
Age Range – 25-35
Accent – Hungarian
Sides – Pg. 43
“In addition to being married to a count (and thus, nobility), she is also a doctor. Beautiful, educated, charming, and intelligent enough to match wits with Poirot. Must also be able to do an American accent.”

Helen Hubbard
Gender – Female
Age Range – 45-60
Accent – American (regional & transatlantic)
Sides – Pgs. 16 & 24
“Not exactly what she seems, Hubbard comes across as a gregarious, loud, obnoxious American busybody who has been married multiple times. Must be comfortable singing and lightly dancing. Should also be able to pull off a cooler, more calculated version of this character with a very standard or even cultured American accent.”

Samuel Rachett
Gender – Male
Age Range – 45-65
Accent – American (mobster)

Sides – Pgs. 20 & 21
“A dangerous and unlikable man, full of entitlement, with a hair trigger temper. Must have a forceful personality and come across as someone not to be trusted or crossed.”

Note: As the murder victim, this actor may be required to remain on stage and still for an extended period of time.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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