No deception here: ‘Holmes’ a whiz-bang whodunit

September 02, 2014 / by / 0 Comment
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Story by Janie Magruder
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Burea

The 2014-15 Ethington Theatre Series opened Friday with "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure," a rollicking whodunit.

The 2014-15 Ethington Theatre Series opened Friday with “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” a rollicking whodunit.

In homage to  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s four novels featuring the beloved super sleuth Sherlock Holmes, here are four clues about the crowd-pleasing opening weekend of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” in Grand Canyon University’s Ethington Theatre. Don’t miss the twist at the end.

1. The story: Winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play, this fast-paced adaptation of Doyle’s original story, by playwright Steven Dietz. brings Holmes out of retirement for one last caper. He engages his dear Dr. Watson to help the King of Bohemia recover an item that would put HRH in a delicate position as he prepares to marry. Holmes, however, meets his witty match in an opera star who also has a keen interest in the item, and his archenemy, the evil Professor Moriarty. “The game’s afoot!”

“The joy in this play is the same as in any superhero scenario where good is pitted against evil, and we get to watch the trials and tribulations of our hero as he attempts to thwart the evil,” wrote Claude Pensis, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Production, in his director’s note in the program.

2. The (double) cast: From top (Aaron Potter and Ryan Usher as Holmes, whose deductive reasoning keeps us on our toes, and Dylan Kim and William Wyss as Watson who, as our connection to Holmes, helps us keeps pace) to bottom – well, there just is no bottom in this talented crew – each actor embraced his or her character with aplomb. Josh Vanderpoel and Keach J. Siriani-Madden could not be more sinister as Professor Moriarty, and if you check the dictionary for the definition of “beguiling,” there certainly must be photos of Irene Adler, irresistibly portrayed by the incandescent Megan Sprink-VanCamp and Joy Flatz. Tip o’ the hat to everyone for not only memorizing their lines but also learning to speak them in Victorian English-speak, thanks in no small part to dialect coach and GCU theatre instructor Michael Kary.

GCU senior William Wyss (Dr. Watson) gasps as junior Ryan Usher (Sherlock Holmes) lights a match inside a gas plant.

GCU senior William Wyss (Dr. Watson) gasps as junior Ryan Usher (Sherlock Holmes) lights a match inside a gas plant.

3. The set: This weekend’s audiences were transported to London’s 221B Baker St., courtesy Assistant Dean Bill Symington, who designs the sets for all GCU theatre productions, and his set crew. First-time Ethington visitors marveled when the lights came up after the first set change, which was seamlessly accomplished by a huge revolving stage turned by the speedy crew. The audience visited Holmes’ study and James Larrabee’s sitting room, heard music from a Victrola phonograph, watched a safe being cracked and prepared for “kablooey!” when Holmes lit a match in a gas plant.

4. The costumes: Too bad GQ magazine wasn’t published in Victorian times because the nattily attired Holmes would have been a perfect cover model. Costume designer Nola Yergen struck just the right chord with her selections of slim coats, waist coats, dressing gown, a deerstalker and that jaw-dropping red tails with matching top hat. Adler’s gowns and capes were stunning, too.

Deduction: It seems elementary that you should purchase tickets at once for this weekend’s final three shows. Alas, they are sold out. If only Holmes were here to figure out a way around that one.

Holmes weighed in Tuesday morning with news that a waiting list exists. Call the Ethington box office at 602-639-8880 to put your name on it.

Contact Janie Magruder at 602-639-8018 or janie.magruder@gcu.edu.


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