What makes a profitable Sherlock Holmes thriller?
One (or a number of) crimes, typically homicide. Quite a few, typically odious. suspects. Sudden issues, twists and turns, blind alleys and crimson herrings.
And naturally, The Man himself (as created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in 4 novels and 56 brief tales, printed from 1887-1927): fiercely clever, with extraordinary powers of remark, forensic figuring and deductive reasoning. Conceited and supercilious. Supremely logical however unemotional and pretty unemphatic. And unequivocally satisfied of his rightness and infallibility.
All this — and music! — and way more may be discovered on the earth premiere musical, “The Outstanding Mister Holmes,” making its debut at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Seashore.
The fittingly convoluted guide is by actor/author Omri Schein and actor/director David Ellenstein. Schein wrote the intelligent, word-and-Holmes-drunk lyrics, and Daniel Lincoln composed the catchy pastiche rating.
Director Ellenstein describes it as a cross between “A Humorous Factor Occurred on the Method to the Discussion board” and “My Honest Woman” (I’d throw in a few Gilbert and Sullivan works), with a contact of Mel Brooks.
To enhance the Brooksian Borscht Belt, below-the-belt shtick, there’s even a Rabbi (and a few anti-Semites), plus Yiddishisms, and repeated instruction in the way to appropriately pronounce that guttural, throat-clearing ‘kh’ sound of Yiddish and Hebrew.
Spiritual iconography abounds: Egyptian, Center Jap, Christian and Jewish artifacts determine into the crimes. (Holmes has all the time relished arcana).
There’s even a possible love curiosity (and a too-little-too-late “I’ve Grown Accustomed to her Face” musical second of realization on Holmes’ half).
Matching the good detective in smarts and savvy is Watson — not the acquainted sidekick Dr. John, however his peripatetic sister, Sheila, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years. She’s lovely and insightful (it’s she who recognized the non secular symbols, out-Holmesing Holmes).
Although she finds Holmes’ skillset “Spectacular,” as one tune has it, she thinks she has each proper to be subsequent to him each step of the way in which, to assist remedy the string of killings of non secular leaders.
The forged of 9 is excellent, and their fast modifications of character and costume make it seem that there are scores extra. The fantastic wardrobe and wig array (costumes by Elisa Benzoni) is mind-boggling in itself.
The set (Marty Burnett) is equally malleable, with home windows and partitions giving strategy to closets and cupboards and backdrops for Eighteen Nineties London projections.
There’s cross-dressing and gender-bending, and no comedian stone is unturned.
The running-time (2¾ hours) could possibly be trimmed — not each new character must have a tune, and the titular opening doesn’t require fairly that many deaths to introduce the world-renowned central character. The pointless “intermission” tune may go, too. The creators are nonetheless tinkering and trimming.
However nonetheless, the present strikes fleetly, and there’s a lot to love about it that point isn’t a difficulty. A lot of Sherlock lore for devotees. And plenty of sharp and witty new additions to the numberless variations of Conan Doyle’s work.
All of the fantastic performers are professional singers, accompanied by a wonderful four-piece offstage band, performed by musical director/pianist Ron Councell.
Sharon Rietkirk is gorgeous, charming, sassy and irresistible as Sheila Watson, and Bart Shatto is completely pitch-perfect as Holmes. (She describes his manners as “on the spectrum between psoriasis and mange.” His social expertise all the time did appear just a little bit “on the spectrum,” as they are saying today).
Andrew Ableson is humorous in his each position. Phil Johnson reveals off his foolish and barely extra critical sides (and his newly shaved head). It’s all the time a deal with when Deborah Gilmour Smyth ventures away from her residence base of Lamb’s Gamers Theatre (the place she’s been since 1979, at the moment serving as affiliate creative director), to show her prodigious comedian and vocal skills. Katie Karel, Tony Perry and Katy Tang add spice to the combo.
It’s a pleasant ensemble, excellently directed by Ellenstein, with musical staging by Jill Gorrie Rovatsos, lighting by Matt Novotny and sound by Aaron Rumley. The miking was inconsistent the evening I used to be there, typically enhancing the vocals, typically muffling them. And that is one present through which you don’t need to miss a crafty, artful lyric.
Don’t even hassle making an attempt to unravel all of the mysteries by yourself (I kinda acquired misplaced within the maze). Simply sit again and revel in all of it gloriously unspooling in entrance of you.
This present has legs; I predict that it’ll be shifting on and shifting up quickly. Don’t miss it whereas it’s providing San Diego a primary look.
- “The Outstanding Mister Holmes” runs at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987D Lomas Santa Fe Dr. in Solana Seashore, via Aug. 21
- Performances are Wednesdays and Sundays at 7 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.. An extra matinee is at 2 p,m, on Wed. Aug. 10.
- Tickets ($57-$68) can be found at 858-481-1055 or northcoastrep.org
- Operating time: 2 hrs. 45 min. (together with intermission)
- COVID Protocol: Proof of vaccination and masks are not required, however masks are beneficial.
Pat Launer, a member of the American Theatre Critics Affiliation, is a long-time San Diego arts author and an Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of her previews and opinions may be discovered at patlauner.com.