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‘Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery’ Concludes Syracuse Stage Season
The game is wildly and hilariously afoot as Syracuse Stage concludes the 2015/2016 season with “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” running May 11-29.
Directed by Peter Amster and featuring a cast of five actors who take on more than 30 roles, this madcap comedy spoofs Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” while preserving the enticing elements of the mystery.
“This version stays very close to Conan Doyle’s original tale, even more so than other dramatic adaptations I’ve worked on,” Amster says. “With Ken Ludwig’s version, you get the mystery, a whole lot of comedy and plenty of opportunities for some terrific performances from the cast.”
The style and feel of “Baskerville” is much like that of “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps,” which Amster directed at Syracuse Stage in 2010. Like “The 39 Steps,” “Baskerville” is filled with lightning quick character and costume changes that add to the excitement and fun. As one review noted, “Baskerville” plays like “a circus of non-stop comedy.”
That sense of unbridled fun is in keeping with playwright Ludwig’s theatrical inclinations. Best known for the hit comedies “Lend Me A Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo,” Ludwig believes that theater is “always a place to have a great time—that’s why it exists. It’s OK to have fun in the theater.”
He also believes that this particular historical moment is ripe for a hero like Sherlock Holmes.
“Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have been a staple of our culture since the 1890s, but they have recently re-entered our world in a more muscular way,” Ludwig explained prior to the play’s world premiere at Arena Stage last year. “For some reason, it seems to be just the right time for Holmes and Watson. Perhaps these days we crave a hero who succeeds despite, or perhaps because of, his quirks, his obsessions and his near-fatal flaws.”
Ludwig also explained that revisiting the Sherlock Holmes stories provided him with an opportunity to write a kind of expansive play full of wonder and adventure that is largely absent from contemporary theater.
“I’ve written a big, and what I hope is a rollicking, mysterious, exciting, funny piece that takes place all over southern England in the 1890s,” the playwright told playbill.com.
Creating that expansive world, including the ferocious hell-hound of the title, has been an exciting challenge for the Syracuse Stage scenic, costume and prop shops. Syracuse Stage producing artistic director Tim Bond believes Stage’s artisans and technical crew will deliver what is needed.
“So much of this show requires split-second timing by the cast, and they need the physical elements of the production to work flawlessly,” he explains. “I think our audiences will be thrilled by how the design elements enhance the enjoyment of the show. There may even be a few surprises.”
Tickets are available at http://syracusestage.org and at the Box Office, 315-443-3275 (Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and two hours before curtain).