Encore Michigan

Sherlock classic comes to Broadway (Onstage, that is)

Review October 26, 2013 Encore Staff

By Dana Casadei

Within the last few years, Sherlock Holmes has been played by numerous actors on both big and little screens, some giving the detective a contemporary twist, such as “Elementary” on CBS. Broadway Onstage brings Sherlock back to its stage for a second time, but decided to stick with a much more classic telling, “The Hound of Baskervilles.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned the tale, with Sherlock’s superior wit and an air of mystery filling the theater. Set in 1920s England, Sherlock (John Arden McClure) and sidekick Watson (Daniel T. Muldoon) are called upon by an old friend, Lady Jane (Mary C. Stelmark), whose husband has recently passed. Like so many of Sherlock’s cases, this isn’t run-of-the-mill; there’s a curse upon the Baskerville family, one that leads to rather gruesome deaths, such as Lady Jane’s late husband.

Sir Henry (Charles Davis), the recently deceased’s nephew and heir, soon appears, fearing that he may be the beast’s next victim. As the show goes on, the audience is introduced to the home’s housekeeper, Mrs. Barrymore (Elizabeth Rager), and a few of Baskerville Hall’s neighbors, including a brother and sister combo, played by Ed Thomas and Sharron Nelson, respectively, and Laura Lyons (Angie Lai).

Many of the show’s twists and turns will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last moment, showing that even the smallest role can hold on to one or two rather juicy secrets. Will Sherlock be able to figure out the curse and save the Baskervilles from their unfortunate fate? Only time will tell.

McClure portrays Sherlock for the second time, previously having played the detective in Broadway Onstage’s “Sherlock Holmes is Coming to Dinner,” and it shows. This is the most comfortable and at ease I’ve ever seen McClure. Sherlock’s a “bit pompous,” as Watson tells him, and a little smug, but it’s a personality that fits McClure well, and that’s a compliment. McClure is also one of the few to have a British accent that didn’t make me want to hit the mute button; it sounded authentic, and was consistent from start to finish.

The cast of eight, four men and four women, should use Deniece Williams’ 1984 hit “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” or in this case boys, for their theme song. The women are either completely forgettable or remembered for the wrong reasons, such as missed cues and botched accents. There were glimmers of hope, such as Nelson’s last scene, where we get to see a whole new side of both the actress and her character, but the in the end, ya gotta give the boys the hand.

Directing duo Jane Burkey and Dennis Wickline, who both designed the set, keep the show going at a quick pace, coming in under two hours. It’s easy to see why they cast Sherlock; a few of the other casting choices are a little bit of a mystery, though.

The set itself uses the area to its advantage, making it seem wider than any previous show I’ve seen at the theater. Sir Hugo’s portrait above the fireplace is impressive, with eyes that seem to watch over the entire room. The makeshift pillars and archway frame the main entrance for the actors, and have an almost marble-like look to them with the paint that was used. Little details, such as the items on the bookshelves, round out the room nicely. The only mishap would be what looks like single squares of velvet fabric on the set’s outermost walls. They feel random and out of place in a room filled with such eloquence.

Even though television has decided Sherlock and gang needed a contemporary facelift, “The Hound of Baskervilles” shows that classics can still hold up on their own.

Week of 7/15/2024

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