Sequim teens climb aboard a classic whodunit this week for their annual fall play.
The Sequim High School Operetta Club and director Anna Pederson adapt Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” for four shows at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 16-18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Sequim High School auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.
General admission is $15, and $12 for children 12 and younger, and $12 for students with an ASB card.
Sequim senior Evan Anderson plays the popular Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who tries to solve the murder of an American aboard the train.
Emma Gilliam, a sophomore who plays Countess Andrenyi, said the Operetta Club’s board chose the play this summer for how well it fit the school’s actors, and for how well it’s written.
“There are so many clues and hints to pick up after you’ve watched the show, and it’s like you’re solving the mystery with Poirot,” she said.
Anderson, acting for the first time, said he figured out Poirot’s accent fairly quickly and when he auditioned he used a video game character’s voice he knew.
“I’ve always liked impersonations, so it’s just fun,” he said.
Neither he or Gilliam have seen any movie adaptations, with Anderson saying he thought it’d be “more fun to figure it out on my own rather than following what the lead actor does.”
Gilliam has forbidden her family from watching the newest movie based on the book, and while rehearsing lines at home with her they try to guess who the murderer could be.
“I’m not giving them any hints,” she said. “They’re not close at all.”
Pederson returns to lead the play after directing last spring’s operetta, “Anastasia.”
She said sets for other “Murder on the Orient Express” productions she’s seen are extravagant, so she wanted to go all out for Sequim’s show. She recruited her contractor husband Jeremy, who conceptualized a rotating train set that features a dining car, corridor and sleeping compartments where the audience will see the action take place.
Period-appropriate costumes come from the high school and in partnership with the Port Angeles Community Players.
For Gilliam, in her first non-musical role after performing in “Anastasia” and Ghostlight Production’s “9 to 5: the Musical,” the play “balances humor with themes of morality, grief, and justice while also being entertaining.”
She said, “I also think (viewers will) enjoy watching the amazing set and costumes that have been made.
“It’s fun watching plays and supporting our high school, too.”
Like Poirot being in the right place at the right time for the murder case, Anderson might have been, too. During auditions, he originally planned to watch his girlfriend (Ann Marie Barni, later cast to play Mary Debenham).
“I went into the audition room to see if I could watch and they said ‘no’,” Anderson said.
“So I went out to wait and Jeremy [gave] me a script, saying ‘Alright, you’re going to do it now.’ And I said OK.”
Anderson said he’s interested in acting, but hadn’t done it on a stage before.
“I felt like I hadn’t grown up doing it so it would be hard to just start, (but) it was the push I needed,” he said.
As rehearsals have gone on, Anderson is feeling more confident and he’s been working on lines with his dad Jeff at home, too.
“It’s really interesting when I’m reading lines to find out what sounds best,” Anderson said.
Joining Anderson and Gilliam on stage are Aason Judd, Barni, Aeden Sisson, Boden Cowgill, Ahrya Klinger, Lily Tjemsland, Sofia Treece and Mark Adrian Dulfo.
More than 10 students volunteer on stage production and other behind-the-scenes work.
For more information about the play, call Sequim High School at 360-582-3600.
‘Murder on the Orient Express’
Where: Sequim High School Auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 16-18; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19