A monochrome collage on a flecked, off-white background features a blue square sitting behind a locomotive on train tracks that appears to emerge from within the square. The train is flanked by images of a full moon and an upside-down magnifying glass.


April 20, 2023
Press release #1850

For more information, contact:
J'Kalein Madison 


Brainin, who served as Resident Director at the Guthrie during former Artistic Director Garland Wright’s tenure, returns to helm the adaptation of Christie’s popular novel

Previews begin Saturday, May 13; Opening on Friday, May 19;
Playing through Sunday, July 2 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) — The Guthrie Theater (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) today announced the cast and creative team for Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, adapted by Ken Ludwig, directed by Risa Brainin. Murder on the Orient Express will play May 13 – July 2, 2023, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Single tickets start at $20 for preview performances (May 13–18). All other performances range from $31 to $80. Single and group tickets are on sale now through the Box Office at 612.377.2224 (single), 1.877.447.8243 (toll-free), 612.225.6244 (group) or online at guthrietheater.org. Accessibility services (ASL-interpreted, audio-described, open-captioned and relaxed performances) are available on select dates.

Artistic Director Joseph Haj said, “There’s a reason Murder on the Orient Express has become one of the most frequently produced comedies in the theater. Agatha Christie is the gold standard when it comes to detective fiction and Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of her beloved novel is a fast-paced, comedic adventure filled with extravagant characters, intrigue and satisfying plot twists — theatrical entertainment at its best.” Haj continued, “I’m also honored to welcome former Resident Director Risa Brainin back to the Guthrie for the first time in 25 years, and I look forward to sharing her work with Guthrie audiences.”

Passengers aboard the Orient Express awake to frightful news: Overnight, the American business mogul among them was stabbed to death behind locked doors. Thankfully, debonair detective Hercule Poirot is on the train and on the case. He promptly begins interviewing suspects, securing alibis and forming theories about the killer, who remains at large and could be closing in on the next victim. As the plot thickens and the travelers grow restless, Poirot presents two viable scenarios about who murdered the mogul and why, taking the audience on a wildly glamorous crime-solving ride.

Agatha Christie (1890–1976) is the bestselling novelist of all time. The creator of two famous fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Christie’s body of work includes more than 60 detective novels and 14 short story collections. Among her many plays is The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the world. She launched her lengthy career in 1920 with the publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced the fastidious, mustachioed detective, Hercule Poirot. Christie developed a reputation for tightly crafted plots, often with a twist, and remains, for many readers, the gold standard in detective fiction.

Murder on the Orient Express was adapted by Ludwig at the request of the Agatha Christie Estate. The play received its world premiere at McCarter Theatre Center in 2017 and its European premiere at the Chichester Festival Theatre in June 2022. This production marks the first work by Christie and Ludwig to be produced by the Guthrie.

Christie’s beloved novel has also had three notable screen adaptations: the 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave and Albert Finney; the 2017 film directed by Kenneth Branagh; and the 2010 TV adaptation starring David Suchet.

The cast of Murder on the Orient Express features Michelle Barber (Guthrie: Other Desert Cities; Roman Holiday; Caroline, or Change) as Princess Dragomiroff, Katie Bradley (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific) as Countess Andrenyi, China Brickey (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol) as Mary Debenham, Jane Froiland (Guthrie: debut) as Greta Ohlsson, Peter Christian Hansen (Guthrie: Freud’s Last Session, Clybourne Park, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) as Colonel Arbuthnot/Samuel Ratchett, Robert Johansen (Guthrie: debut) as Michel/Head Waiter, Gavin Lawrence (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol, Once in a Lifetime) as Monsieur Bouc, Andrew May (Guthrie: debut) as Hercule Poirot, Tyler Michaels King (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol, The Tempest, West Side Story) as Hector MacQueen and Sally Wingert (Guthrie: Twelfth Night, Steel Magnolias, Noises Off) as Helen Hubbard.

The creative team for Murder on the Orient Express includes Ken Ludwig (Adapter), Risa Brainin (Director), Rob Koharchik (Scenic Designer), Devon Painter (Costume Designer), Michael Klaers (Lighting Designer), Michael Keck (Sound Designer/Composer), Miko Simmons (Projection Designer), Megan Burns (Vocal Coach), Aaron Preusse (Fight Director), Alessandra Bongiardina (Intimacy), Jennifer Liestman (Resident Casting Director), Karl Alphonso (Stage Manager), Laura Topham (Assistant Stage Manager), Teresa Mock (Assistant Director) and McCorkle Casting, Ltd. (NYC Casting Consultant).

Ken Ludwig (Adapter) is an award-winning playwright who has had six shows on Broadway and seven in London’s West End, with many of his works becoming a standard part of the American theater canon. His plays and musicals have been performed in over 30 countries in more than 20 languages and are produced throughout the U.S. every night of the year. Ludwig’s work includes Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, Twentieth Century, A Comedy of Tenors, Shakespeare in Hollywood, Leading Ladies and the book for the musical Crazy for You, which ran on Broadway for five years and won the Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical. His latest play, Dear Jack, Dear Louise, won the 2020 Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play.

Risa Brainin (Director) is Founder/Artistic Director of the groundbreaking new play development program LAUNCH PAD at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Brainin has also served as Artistic Director of Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Associate Artistic Director for both Kansas City Rep and Indiana Repertory Theatre, and Resident Director at the Guthrie Theater. Since creating LAUNCH PAD in 2005, she has developed and directed 20+ new works by distinguished writers, including recent plays by Jami Brandli, Mia Chung, Yussef El Guindi, Anne García-Romero, Franky Gonzalez, Idris Goodwin, Enid Graham, Arlene Hutton, Jenny Mercein, Joyce Carol Oates, James Still and Cheryl L. West. She pioneered, along with Annie Torsiglieri, the groundbreaking virtual festival Alone, Together on June 6, 2020. A graduate of the Carnegie Mellon University drama program, Brainin has served on grant panels for Theatre Communications Group and National Endowment for the Arts.

The Guthrie gratefully acknowledges the support of Presenting Sponsor Ameriprise, and Lathrop GPM for their contribution toward the lighting design in this production.

Relaxed Performance – Sunday, June 11 at 1 p.m.
A relaxed performance is intended to be sensitive to and accepting on any audience member who may benefit from a more relaxed environment. It is intentionally modified to accommodate patrons with sensory and vestibular sensitivities, anxiety, dementia, autism spectrum disorders, learning differences and/or other challenges attending the theater. Single tickets to the relaxed performance of Murder on the Orient Express are $29 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 612.377.2224. For more information, visit www.guthrietheater.org/relaxed.  

Land Acknowledgment
The Guthrie Theater would like to acknowledge that it resides on the traditional land of the Dakota People and honors with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations, including the Ojibwe and other Indigenous nations.

The GUTHRIE THEATER (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) is an American center for theater performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota, celebrating 60 years of artistic excellence during its 2022–2023 Season. Under Haj’s leadership, the Guthrie has continued its dedication to producing a mix of classic and contemporary plays and cultivating the next generation of theater artists. Since its founding in 1963, the theater has set a national standard for excellence in the field and served the people of Minnesota as a vital cultural resource. The Guthrie houses three state-of-the-art stages, production facilities, classrooms, restaurants and dramatic public spaces. guthrietheater.org.