Solving a mystery: Mayhem and comedy surround a murder at the Orient ExpressBEACH — The Beach High School Senior Class is presenting a comedy/mystery titled “Murder at the Orient Express.” Performances are at 7 p.m. today and Monday in the Beach Lincoln Elementary School. “It’s basically a murder-mystery about somebody who is hated by so many people,” said director Diane Szudera. The play opens with Seymour Twitt, the richest and most ruthless man in town, hiring ace private eye, Dudley Sharpe and his assistant Pepe, to find out who has been sending him threatening notes. Sharpe tells his new client to meet him at the Orient Express, a Chinese restaurant run by two Irish sisters. On a fateful stormy night, the Orient Express is bustling with an odd assortment of customers who appear to be in disguise. Sharpe shares a long list of potential killers with Twitt. Then someone in the restaurant takes advantage of a blackout to kill Twitt with a pair of chopsticks through the heart. When a blizzard prevents everyone from escaping, Sharpe begins to unravel the identities of the 12 suspects in the room, revealing how each is somehow connected to Twitt. “This is a mystery that will leave you laughing and guessing to the end,” said Szudera. She said Beach does two plays each year — one in the fall and one in the spring. “Most of these kids are very involved with sports or after-school jobs, but they enjoy it so much,” said Szudera. “You see it on the night of the performance. The kids are so excited. They’re having fun being out there, acting and getting that laugh. The applause means the world to them.” She has worked at Home on the Range for 25 years and became involved with directing the plays about five years ago. “I volunteered to direct if they couldn’t find anybody to do it,” she said. Two of her daughters were in school at the time, and now she has a freshman coming up. “I figure I’ll do it as long as I have fun. I love working with the kids. Sometimes they drive you crazy, but most of the time they make me laugh,” she said. Austin Bagley plays private detective Dudley Sharpe. “He knows who did the killing right away, but he lets it play out,” said Bagley. Despite being a murder-mystery, he said the play has some funny lines. “I’d say it’s a comedy, kind of dry humor,” he said. Lori Wissink plays Molly McGregor. Molly and her sister, Mary, own the Chinese restaurant. They’re serving tea and fortune cookies when the murder occurs. “The sisters are shocked. No one really knows who did it,” said Wissink. The list of suspects is long because the victim has no friends. “He owns pretty much everything in town. He’s a rude guy, he’s very rich, he doesn’t care about anything but himself,” she said. The cast also includes Mandy Fulton as Frau Beethoven, Jacob Weinreis as Seymour Twitt and Dusty Fulton as Sharp’s assistant, Pepe. Lynae Skoglund is Mary McGregor, Greg Schmidt is Wee Willie Wonkers, Lindsay Olson is Carlotta Twitt and Kristina Weinreis. Tanner Tescher is Barney Barrelfoot, Kelsey Schillo is Scarlet Dawn, Devin Steele is Lester Peapicker, Raeann Schulte is Darla Dee, Grace Nistler is Hildegarde Harris and Liz Gunkel is Olivia Crenshaw. Derek Weinreis is the assistant director. The audience is invited to make a free-will donation to help cover expenses. “We’d like as many people as possible to attend. Let the kids come. We welcome everybody,” said Szudera.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press