By John Hogan
It’s been 126 years since Sherlock Holmes made his debut in the fictional writing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the British detective’s use of forensic science and myriad disguises continues to captivate audiences worldwide.
He’s been featured in four novels, 56 short stories and numerous movies, including a 2009 Hollywood release starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. And next week (April 25-27), the legendary gumshoe will be featured on stage by Rockford’s Rogue River Community Theatre Company.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Last Great Gumshoe’’ offers another glimpse into the life of the famed London detective known for his trademark pipe, deerstalker cap and magnifying glass.
“This is Sherlock Holmes as you’ve never seen him before,’’ said Patricia Rose, who penned the nearly two-hour production that includes a cast of 25 actors. “It’s a rollicking good time – a madcap ‘whodunit’ adventure set in 1920s London.’’
The production features damsels in distress and members of Scotland Yard working tirelessly – and hilariously – on what Rose describes as a “convoluted case.’’
Unlike other plays, “Sherlock Holmes and the Last Great Gumshoe’’ invites audience members to help solve the mystery. “There will be a prize given at each performance to the audience member who guesses a clue in the story correctly,’’ Rose said. “It’s a fun show for the whole family and will be especially appreciated by die-hard Holmes fans. As Sherlock would say, ‘the game’s afoot.’’’
Don’t look for Holmes or his friend and biographer, Dr. Watson, on a foggy, gas-lit Baker Street in London. They’ll be on South Main Street in Cedar Springs – at the historic Kent Theatre.
Performances are Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. Two shows are scheduled for Saturday, April 27: a matinee at 2 p.m. with the final performance at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for students. They can be purchased at the door.
“I’m fortunate to play the master sleuth of deductive reasoning in this new murder-mystery comedy,’’ said Michael Baribeau, who has the lead role. “It’s no small affair; I have a large cast of suspects, including the tight-knit cockneys, the elegant heiress, her beautiful daughter, the handsome, suave lover, the lovely mysterious woman, the man in black and the woman in red.’’
Though a formidable investigator, Holmes is assisted by detectives from Scotland Yard, a French inspector and “a new and most promising criminal investigator,’’ Holmes’ own son.
“It’s a lot of fun with great dialog between investigators and us poor blokes on the streets,’’ said Timothy Huff, who plays a booze-swilling, heavy-accented cockney – a term given to people born on London’s poverty-ridden east side.
Huff notes that writer Charles Dickens set his novel “Oliver Twist’’ on London’s fabled east side. “It was tough getting down the cockney accent,’’ he laughed.
To learn more about the production and Rogue River Community Theatre Company, visit its facebook page at www.facebook.com/rrctc.