‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ at Oregon Cabaret Theatre presents detective Hercule Poirot with a difficult case even as it gives playgoers a stellar cast and laugh-out-loud humor
By Lee Juillerat for Ashland.news
When Hercule Poirot investigates a seemingly impossible-to-solve crime you know it’s just a matter of time before he resolves the mystery.
And that’s just what he does in “Poirot: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” the current offering at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre.
Rick Robinson, who has adapted the Agatha Christie novel for the Cabaret stage, and director Todd Nielsen have created a production that is meticulously detailed, injected with laugh-out-loud humor and strengthened by yet another stellar group of actors, featuring Louis Lotorto as the mustachioed Poirot and Michael J. Hume as Dr. Shepherd, who is enlisted as Poirot’s assistant. It’s an excellent pairing.
Poirot has recently retired to the quiet country village of King’s Abbot. Shepherd’s nosy sister, Caroline, believes Poirot is a hairdresser but others who know better enlist him to assist when his friend Roger Ackroyd, a wealthy widower, is found brutally murdered with a knife in his back. Whodunit? Solving the riddle is challenging because everyone in the village is hiding a secret. Even the relentless Poirot seems flummoxed as he works to unravel the mystery, which includes a missing letter from an unknown person threatening to blackmail Ackroyd.
There are unanswered questions — a locked door, an open window, a chair that moves itself — at the crime scene that must be answered. Truths and riddles to be solved.
But, of course, Poirot persists and succeeds in unraveling the mystery.
“There’s a good reason why this mystery sits in the top five of most critics’ lists of Agatha Christie novels,” Robinson said as he explained what attracted him to adapt the story. “The characters are memorable and the mystery at the heart of it is just so compelling. My job as the adapter is to stay out of the way as much as possible — to let Agatha Christie’s detective yarn shine in a theatrical setting.”
There is no weakness in the cast. Along with Lotorto and Hume, those playing the sometimes quirky, unpredictable supporting roles include Cabaret veterans Priscilla Quinby, Daniel Olson and Dani Brady, joined by Cabaret newcomers Noelle Franco, Elizabeth Gudenrath, Ryan Andrew Feyk and William Champion. Possibly having the most fun is U. Jonathan Toppo, a longtime Oregon Shakespeare Festival favorite, as Ackroyd and, more merrily, as cocky Inspector Raglan.
Nielsen is well acquainted with Poirot, having directed “Poirot: Murder on the Links” along with “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Cabaret. He’s also directed several productions for the Camelot Theatre Company and the Collaborative Theatre Project. Credit goes, too, to the design team, including set designer Brian Redfern, lighting designer Chris Wood, projection designer Michael Stanfill, props designer James Paul Xavier and costume designer Stefan Romero.
So, whodunit? The butler, the widow, an illegitimate son, a parlor maid, a secretary, the police inspector?
Find out for yourself, and have fun doing it.
Reservations are required for preshow dinner or brunch. Appetizers, cocktails, beverages and desserts are available without reservations. Ticket prices Monday through Thursday is $46 for A Level seating, $42 for B Level seating, and $32 for C Level seating. The cost for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performance is $49 for A Level seating, $46 for B Level seating, and $32 for C Level seating. The Cabaret offers a 15% ticket discount for groups of 12 or more for select ticket types and performances. $15 student rush tickets can be purchased 30 minutes before curtain with a valid student ID, subject to availability.
For more information or to purchase tickets call the Oregon Cabaret Theatre box office at 541-488-2902 or visit the website at oregoncabaret.com.
Email freelance writer Lee Juillerat at email@example.com.