Technical rehearsals are now underway for Hamilton-Gibson’s (HGs) cast of 17 actors who will soon be bringing “Miss Holmes” to life on the Deane Center’s Coolidge Theatre stage at 104 Main St. in Wellsboro.
Christopher Walsh wrote “Miss Holmes,” a new murder mystery based on Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and other characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British author of detective fiction novels and short stories. Walsh’s play premiered in Chicago in 2016.
Heading the HG cast are Nikki York as Miss Sherlock Holmes and Sarah Duterte as Dr. Dorothy Watson. The cast also includes other familiar Holmes characters like overbearing brother Mycroft Holmes (Titus Himmelberger), befuddled housekeeper Mrs. Hudson (Deb Sawyer) and reluctant ally Inspector Lestrade (Michael Lavarnway) who congregate at 221B Baker Street.
“The story races through 19th Century London, from the infamous Bedlam Hospital to 221B Baker Street, from upper class manors to dark flop houses,” said Director Gabe Hakvaag. “I personally hate set changes,” he noted, adding, “Instead, we are creating the world of Sherlock Holmes with light and sound effects that happen around the actors.”
A central design element is a large screen used to project Holmes illustrations from “The Strand Magazine.” This monthly publication and Sherlock Holmes were inextricably linked. From the first issue published in the United Kingdom on January 1891, “The Strand” paired Doyle’s series of short stories about Holmes with pen and ink illustrations by Sidney Paget. Doyle’s last Holmes short story was published in the magazine’s September 1917 issue.
“Miss Holmes” is a classic detective story with a twist. The mystery is established immediately. Holmes and Watson are asked to investigate the source of several letters warning the third wife of Inspector Thomas Chapman (Sean Bartlett) of Scotland Yard that her husband may intend her harm. During the investigation, the pair uncovers a trail of corruption and sinister forces. “Upon reading the script for the first time,” said York, “I was floored. I loved the suspense and the reveal at the end.”
The central question is “What if Sherlock Holmes was a woman?” Walsh’s adaption handles the gender reversal of Holmes and Watson with wit and sensitivity and a great deal of humor.
“The most entertaining thing about the play is how humor is woven into the plot of this mystery while also examining gender roles in an historical yet relevant way,” said Rachel Smith, who plays Mrs. Elizabeth Chapman.
The play is centered on Holmes and Watson’s relationship. At the start of “Miss Holmes,” the two women are strangers introduced by a mutual acquaintance. “As the play unfolds, Holmes and Watson’s transition from strangers to questionable colleagues to friends who forge a bond of trust despite the bizarre events was entertaining as all get out,” said Tina Eyer who plays Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.
Performances of “Miss Holmes” will be at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, March 15 and 16 and March 22 and 23 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 in the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center, 104 Main St. in Wellsboro.
Admission for adults of all ages is $12 and $6 for youth, 18 and under. A $60 FlexPass for admission to six shows is also available. Purchase tickets online at the HG website at hamiltongibson.org or via links to TicketLeap on HG’s Facebook page or at the door.
For more information, call (570) 724-2079 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.