Nov. 6, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wharton County Junior College students Kylee Bates of East Bernard, left, and Rodrigo Gutierrez of Cypress rehearse a scene from the upcoming production, "Murder on the Orient Express." The play is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 9, 10, and 11 at the Horton Foote Theatre in the Duson-Hansen Fine Arts Building on the Wharton campus. Admission is free and the play is open to the public.
WHARTON, TEXAS – A luxury train, a mysterious group of passengers and a brutal murder are on the ticket for the Wharton County Junior College Drama Department’s upcoming production, “Murder on the Orient Express.” The play is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 9, 10, and 11 at the Horton Foote Theatre in the Duson-Hansen Fine Arts Building on the Wharton campus. Admission is free and the play is open to the public.
Based on the classic mystery story by Agatha Christie, the play (adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig) features a dazzling mix of characters, setting and plot. At the center of the story is Hercule Poirot, Christie’s famous Belgian detective, who happens to stumble onto a vicious murder case while a passenger on The Orient Express, a luxury train traveling from Istanbul to Western Europe.
“I have always wanted to do a murder mystery play,” said WCJC Drama Instructor Greg McLarty. “The challenge was bringing this epic story line to our stage.”
Constructing a set that mimics a train interior took a fair bit of ingenuity. McLarty enlisted the services of the cast and crew to construct a representational set that can rotate for the different scenes. Freshman drama student Kylee Bates of East Bernard said this is the first time she’s helped construct such an elaborate set.
“I’ve done shows in high school but I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “Helping to build the set has been a great experience. You really get involved with the whole production this way.”
Bates plays Countess Andrenyi, a role that involves using a foreign accent and an exquisite wardrobe. Trying to get the audience to believe she is Hungarian is a challenge that Bates embraces.
“I love doing accents,” she said.
Student actor Danté Hancock, also from East Bernard, must fabricate a French accent for his character, too. He plays the role of Bouc, a train representative and long-time friend of Poirot’s. Like Bates, Hancock has been impressed with the depth of commitment required to put on the show.
“This is the most professional production I’ve been in,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve worked with such an intricate set. It’s really been a lot of fun.”
In addition to Bates and Hancock, the cast and crew for “Murder on the Orient Express” include Rodrigo Gutierrez of Cypress, Luis Perez of Wharton, Johnny Rodriguez of Sealy, Aiden Tarango of Sugar Land, Ryan Mejin of El Campo, Crystal Hackstedt of Needville, Karis Meek of Hungerford, Makaya Brown of Bay City, Valerie Brown of Eagle Lake, Ginger Williams of Houston, Hannah Purnell of El Campo, Abigail Higginbothom of Wharton, CC Hearse of Wharton, Evony Holloway of Wharton, Lisette Vargas of El Campo, Emily Soto of Rosenberg and Kit Lancaster of Fulshear.