The great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was created by mystery novelist Agatha Christie in 1920. Besides his snappy wardrobe and idiosyncratic moustache, the deeply eccentric Poirot has a mind like a steel trap, and, can pretty much deduce who done it, along with the where, why and how, in any mysterious situation. And he’ll throw out plenty of bon mots in the process.
He’s been one of the most beloved characters in modern literature for a century and has been portrayed – always with wit, wardrobe and moustache – by countless actors on film and TV (Kenneth Branagh most recently played Poirot in a series of British-made movies).
In the spring of 2022, Tampa’s Stageworks Theatre produced Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, a rousing and fun affair, with St. Petersburg’s Matthew McGee as the delightfully deducing detective.
McGee was deep into rehearsals for a new mystery called Poirot Returns!, which will open Friday at Stageworks, when for personal reasons he had to leave the production.
With less than two weeks to go, the role – and Poirot’s beloved patent leather shoes – were filled by actress Roxanne Fay – a longtime bay area favorite who has inhabited many characters over the years, in professional theaters in both Hillsborough and Tampa.
She is the new Hercule Poirot.
“Roxanne is literally saving the show and nobody does it better,” McGee said in an email. “Her Poirot will be Branagh and Bernhardt all rolled into one.”
Sarasota writer, actor and director Larry Alexander created Poirot Returns! – it’s adapted from Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles – and is directing this production, which also features Katherine Yacko, Lukas Chaviano, Shaun Memmel, Julia Rifino, Jaryn McCann and others.
Poirot Returns! runs through Nov. 12. Find all tickets and other details here.
It is, of course, Halloween weekend, and all eyes are turned towards Sunday’s Halloween on Central event, a family-friendly five hours wherein two miles of Central Avenue – between MLK (9th Street) and 31st Street – will be closed to vehicular traffic. It’s a walking, strolling, bike-riding event with vendors, live entertainment, trick-or-treat stations for the little ones and more. Find all the details in this Catalyst story.
Screamin’ Michael Raabe and friends bring the popular Halloween comedy cabaret I Put a Spell on You back to freeFall Theatre Friday. The cast also includes (as it did in ’22) Sara Delbeato (who’s currently tearing it up in the company’s Nightsweat), Sarasota cabaret star Ann Morrison and jazz chanteuse Belinda Womack. Tickets.
At the Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, paranormal investigators Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej of the show Ghost Files (online at Watcher Entertainment) will attempt to conjure up some spook-out stuff Saturday at 8 p.m. (tickets here); Sunday at 7:30, the Cap brings in Greg and Dana Newkirk and their Haunted Objects Live show, in which they display, discuss and otherwise scare you with stories and stuff from their “traveling museum of the paranormal.” Tickets here.
The jazz trio La Lucha (piano, bass and drums) is back at the Palladium Theater for the fourth annual La Luchaween Sunday; the guys perform a live soundtrack to clips from vintage silent horror film. Master of scar-emonies for the evening (in the absence of the late, great Dr. Paul Bearer) will be St. Pete actress Eugenie Bondurant, who pulled off some frightful stuff in Fear of Rain, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and Werewolf By Night. It starts at 7 p.m. on the big stage; find tickets here.
More on theater stages
OK … this is kind of a Halloween thing, too. The national tour of the Broadway musical Beetlejuice is in Morsani Hall, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, today through Sunday. There are multiple performances; find details and tickets here.
And things are pretty scary in Jobsite Theater’s Frankenstein, a new (ish) adaptation of the classic Mary Shelley horror novel, from British playwright Nick Dear. It’s in the Straz Center’s Shimberg Theatre. Find tickets here. Cast member (and special effects makeup creator) Logan Franke is Friday’s guest on our Arts Alive! podcast.
Natalie Symons’ Nightsweat, onstage all weekend (with the exception of Friday) at freeFall Theatre, is a full-throated comic farce about, well, murder. Or fear of murder, as four women pick the wrong Air B&B for what’s supposed to be a relaxing, reinvigorating weekend. Tickets here.
And it’s curtain down for American Stage’s extraordinary production of Paula Vogel’s Indecent. This one’s scary, not for Halloweenish reasons but for the things it says about society, 100 years ago … and now. Sunday’s 3 p.m. matinee of Indecent will be your last chance to see it. Tickets.
And let’s not forget those singing and dancing lads in The Choir of Man, the jukebox musical set in an Irish pub, onstage five days a week in the Jaeb Theatre, at the Straz Center. The Choir of Man, performed by a national touring company, will be at the Jaeb through Dec. 10. Tickets.
Friday, Oct. 27. Comedian Heather McMahon in Ferguson Hall, Straz Center. Tickets.
Saturday, Oct. 28. Chilean singer/songwriter Santiago Cruz in Ferguson Hall, Straz Center. Tickets.
Saturday, Oct. 28. Stretch’s Rubberband plays the music of Stevie Wonder at the Palladium Side Door. Tickets.
Saturday, Oct. 28. Country singer Jason Aldean at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Tickets.
Saturday, Oct. 28. Colombian pop singer Maluma at Amalie Arena. Tickets.
Saturday, Oct. 28. Rock singer Sammy Hagar, with George Thorogood & the Destroyers, at The Sound. Tickets.
Sunday, Oct. 29: Comedian Dave Chappelle at Amalie Arena. Tickets.
Sunday, Oct. 29. Singer/songwriter John Legend in a solo acoustic concert at the Seminole Hard Rock Event Center. Tickets.
Monday, Oct. 30. Alt-country band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. Read more in this Catalyst story.
Where’s the orchestra?
Pianist Yulianna Avdeeva joins The Florida Orchestra Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) for Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme By Paganini. Conducted by Michael Francis, the program (both performances are at the Mahaffey Theater) also includes Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony – inspired by Superman comics – and Ravel’s waltz La Valse. Find tickets here.
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