This month Junction City Little Theater opens its season with Agatha Christie’s “The Murder on the Orient Express”. The main character being one of Christie’s most famous creations: Detective Hercule Poirot. Christie wrote him for the first time in 1920 in her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles and then he appeared in 33 original novels and over 50 short stories.
There have been various interpretations of Poirot on stage and screen, most recently by Kenneth Branagh, but Christie describes him as
"...hardly more than five feet four inches but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side…The neatness of his attire was almost incredible; I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound."
Poirot is also known for his idiosyncrasies. He is unhappy with any disorder and is known to refuse to eat an irregularly shaped loaf of bread. He takes great pride in his appearance from his immaculately groomed moustache to his patent leather shoes. He is very picky about what he drinks. He will drink hot chocolate and herbal tea, and once called decaffeinated coffee an ‘abomination’.
As a detective, Poirot is described as extraordinary. While some detectives scrabble around searching for clues, Poirot uses psychology and his extensive knowledge of human nature to weed out criminals. Poirot’s cases are invariably finished with a typical, dramatic denouement, confirming to all that he is truly "the greatest mind in Europe."
The first portrayal of Poirot was by Charles Laughton in a 1928 stage production of Alibi; an adaptation of Christie’s well-known novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
JCLT actor Andrew Liebau, known for roles such as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, and Director for Clue: On Stage will be taking on the role of Poirot. I was able to ask a quick question to Andrew in between rehearsals, his full-time job, being a father of 4, and living out in Wakefield, KS.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of playing Poirot? All the lines?
I would say that the lines aren't difficult. There's just a lot. The hardest thing is digging into the mind of the world's greatest detective. Like what does he know? When would he know it? How?
Can Andrew pull off playing the famous Poirot?
My money is on, YES!
Get to the Opera House August 17-19 and 25-27 to see who gets murdered and if Poirot can figure out who did it!
In a rare filmed interview, Agatha Christie was asked which was the best Poirot novel. After some hesitation ("Oh dear that’s a tall order!") she declared that it was probably Murder on the Orient Express.