By Linwood Outlaw III -- email@example.com
MIDDLETOWN -- Renowned fictional detective Sherlock Holmes has captivated legions of fans with a carefully blended mix of deductive reasoning, shrewd observation and intellectual prowess that he uses to solve perplexing cases.
But, there's no mystery as to what the main premises of Wayside Theatre's latest play, based on the adventures of the popular character, will be.
"In many ways, this play is really a celebration of the whole Sherlock Holmes' myths, ideology and canon in terms of all of the things that are Sherlock Holmes," Wayside Theatre Artistic Director Warner Crocker said. "It's a celebration of everything [that is] Sherlock Holmes because we get Sherlock Holmes in all of his glory, and all of his sleuthing, and all of his mystery figuring out, and all of his plotting and conniving."
Wayside Theatre will present its rendition of "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure," a mystery adapted by playwright Steven Dietz, from Oct. 10 through Nov. 7.
Based on an 1899 play by Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gillette, Dietz's play combines several plots from two other Sherlock Holmes stories: "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Adventure of the Final Problem." The adaptation earned Dietz the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery.
Throughout the play that Crocker calls "a very entertaining and thrilling adventure," Holmes, having already reached the pinnacle of his career, stumbles upon another eye-opening case he wants to solve. The King of Bohemia is on the cusp of being blackmailed, and a famous opera singer, Irene Alder, has her thumbprint on the crime. While confiding in his friend, Doctor Watson, Holmes seeks to crack the case and keep his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, at bay.
"We kind of see this play, and see Sherlock Holmes, through Watson's eyes," Crocker said. "Watson is kind of our entry point into the play because when it begins, we believe that Sherlock Holmes is dead."
The cast is composed of veteran Wayside Theatre actors who are anxiously anticipating opening night. Thomasin Savaiano, who will play the role of Irene Alder, has taken a profound interest in her character.
"I think from my character's perspective, I like her because, for the time period, she is extremely intelligent and extremely lively," Savaiano said. "The reason that Holmes is attracted to her is because he's finally found a woman who can outsmart him. And, I think that's the most fun part about playing this character."
John Alcott will take on the role of the central character, Sherlock Holmes himself. Alcott insists he doesn't feel any added pressure, though he admits the role will require a great deal of attention to detail. "A lot of the preparation is this script. Sherlock Holmes is really whoever the man who is playing him is," Alcott said. "You try to have as much fun with it as possible."
One of the most "fun" aspects about the script, Alcott said, is that when Dietz originally wrote it, "he knew it was for the stage."
"He wanted to make it as theatrical and dynamic as possible, because you can't just have Sherlock sitting in his room with his pipe figuring things out," Alcott said. "You can do that on film. But, you can't do that on the stage."
Wayside Theatre has not hosted a Sherlock Holmes play in years, and the cast hopes the audience will be equally excited about the character's return, Crocker said.
"It's been a while since Holmes has stalked the stage of Wayside," Crocker said. "We're kind of hoping that we're going to put on a production that's going to be a celebration of Sherlock Holmes that the audience can just sit back and revel in. One of the great things about murder mysteries is that even though they're tense, even though the stakes are high ... they're extraordinarily entertaining."
"Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" will begin performances on Oct. 10. Opening Night is at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11. Performances will be held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25 to $30. Children ages 17 and younger will be admitted for $10. For more information, call 869-1776 or visit www.waysidetheatre.org.