All Aboard for a Murder!

Sometimes you have to stick with the classics.

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was published as a novel in 1934, made into films twice, and most recently was adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig. Over time and all these permutations, the story has retained its intricate web of mystery, deceit, sardonic wit, told by a complex cast of characters. All for One Productions’ latest version at Shea’s 710 Theatre captures it all on a pretty amazing stage, too.

All for One and the show’s director Kyle LoConti kept it all pretty mainstream and that simplicity was this show’s perfection. Lynne Koscielniak’s set is gorgeous: it revolves to reveal four distinct places – including the train’s dim and narrow aisle and it’s well-appointed a quite glamorous. Prop master Diane Almeter Jones and her team went for pure art deco elegance which was echoed by Lise Harty’s stunning costumes. You’re pulled into story immediately on the narrow video screen above the set which also becomes the moving train.

What’s a great set without a cast of actors in roles that fit them like fine calf skin gloves? Christian Brandjes is a marvelous Hercule Poirot, right down to the elaborate moustache. Gregory Gjurich is c’est magnifique as Monsieur Bouc, Poirot’s friend who helps get him aboard the train from Istanbul to London. Make sure you read the cast bios in the (really printed on page) playbill. Gjurich shows his devotion to his character in his entry. Lisa Ludwig is wonderfully brash as the only American, Mrs. Hubbard. Alas, there are plenty of aliases among this large cast and a couple actors who adroitly handle double roles. It’s all great fun. At the back of your mind, you know that the characters are in a world between wars, they’re fighting their inner battles, too, and yet they are swathed in a refined elegance that only can happen on a train in Europe. With murderers afoot. And revenge as a motive. Or was it?

Even if you’re blasé about having read the book, seen the movie(s), know the plot and its twists, this is mighty fine theatre. The set is an experience, the acting is superb, and whole experience is a pure delight. It’s a short run to April 2; find tickets and details at

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express runs two hours with a 15-minute intermission.


First Look: ‘The Three Musketeers’ by All For One Productions at Shea’s 710 Theatre

Buffalo is one of the largest theatre communities in the United States. It is one of the largest markets for touring shows, and producers love Buffalo because we like to buy tickets, many tickets. In Buffalo, there are more than twenty companies that produce theatre annually, most of which have at least 5 productions mounted each season.

Of these companies, exists Irish Classical Theatre Company, Road Less Traveled Productions, Theatre of Youth, MusicalFare Theatre, and Shea’s Performing Arts Center, who all collaborated to create a production that would bring the entire community together.

“Scott Behrend (Road Less Traveled), Vincent O’Neill (Irish Classical Theatre), Meg Quinn (Theatre of Youth), and I got together about three years ago for breakfast, and we started talking about the status of the theatre in Buffalo,” says Randy Kramer, artistic and executive director of MusicalFare Theatre, “we tossed around the idea of working together, and thinking about what we should do if we did decide to work together.”

And the breakfast meetings continued. “It is always fun to get together with your peers, especially those who work in the same field as you do,’ says Kramer, “running a theatre is a very unique business that does not always have the same challenges as other businesses. It is nice to be able to understand and relate to others who speak the same language.”

The breakfast clubbers read scripts, many scripts, thinking of ideas for what they could produce together, “We knew that we didn’t want to do something that any one of our companies could do by themselves,” says Kramer, “ we wanted to look at our best designers, our best builders, our best creative teams, and make this production one that would be a huge draw to the community.”

And then the show was chosen. “The Three Musketeers” by Linda Alper. “We wanted to pick a show that would appeal to all of the audiences from all of our theaters,” says Kramer. “This show is great for families, its a unique production, and it isn’t seen on stage very often.”

The group consensus was that the production should be performed at Shea’s 710 Theatre, in an effort to get that space utilized since it has such history in the Buffalo theatre community. “We spoke to Tony Conte [the former president of Shea’s] and he loved the idea, then he retired,” laughs Kramer. “Michael Murphy, who took over for Tony, brought great insight into our plans and really helped make this reality.”

“It has been a tremendous experience working with everyone on this production,” says Kramer, “I have seen the rehearsals and it is epic.”

“The Three Musketeers” is produced by All For One Productions and is presented at Shea’s 710 Theatre November 1 – 17, 2018. For more information, click here.