BWW Review: ELITE DANCE THEATRE'S MR. MALLARD'S MAGICAL MENAGERIE & THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACK SWAN at North 4th Theatre
Led by a charismatic Sherlock Holmes (Chris Ranney) and Dr. John Watson (Steve Corona), Elite Dance Theatre's Mr. Mallard's Magical Menagerie & The Mystery of the BLACK SWAN is a unique take on a classic Sherlock Holmes tale, "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder". At the start of the production, John McFarlane (Gennaro Leo) arrives at 221 B Baker Street and asks Holmes and Watson for their help. McFarlane is the prime suspect in the murder of Jonas Oldacre (Iain Munroe), the owner of the Norwood Theatre, and he wants the detective to prove his innocence. Along with this, Mr. Mallard is about to premiere his new act, Mr. Mallard's Magical Menagerie at the Norwood Theatre, because "the show must go on", even amid a murder investigation.
By making some minor changes to the plot and setting of "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" and centering the plot on the theatre, this enables Elite Dance Theatre's production to focus on two other things they are known for in the community: dance and musical theater. The show within a show concept allows the audience - with Holmes and Watson included as part of them - to watch the acts during rehearsals as well as ending with opening night of Mr. Mallard's showcase. Thanks to the direction of Cheri Costas and work of the entire cast and crew, the dance, musical theatre, and traditional theatre elements are blended seamlessly, allowing for an entertaining show with something for everyone.
Ranney shines as Sherlock Holmes, bringing a dry wit to the character that lightens his performance. Corona is equal parts detective in his own right as he investigates the theatre and its performers and wrangler of Holmes as he tries to keep the other man in check. Cara Sowers as Victoria McFarlane/BLACK SWAN has a commanding presence on the stage. Leo in the combined role of John McFarlane and Reilly McFarlane makes his two characters unique through the accents used and his body language. The rest of the cast; including Aaron Mastriani as Inspector Lestrade, Noel Tomingas as Mr. Mallard, and Iain Munroe as Jonas Oldacre; do an admirable job with their roles.
Mr. Mallard's Magical Menagerie & The Mystery of the BLACK SWAN runs from September 7th - 15th at the North 4th Theatre. Tickets range from $20 - $22, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7 p.m. with an additional show at 2 p.m. on Saturday 9/15. The show runs for 2 hours, including a high tea intermission.
Image credit: Elite Dance Theatre