Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm

Make sure to see this heart-racing production before it closes on May 14th!

By: May. 05, 2023
Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
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Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
Krystel Lucas as Mrs. Lillie Langtry,
Todd Waite as Sherlock Holmes,
Christopher Salazar as Oscar Wilde,
and Orlando Arriaga as Dr. Watson
On the Case
in Alley Theatre's Production of
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY
Photography by Lynn Lane

Honestly, I did not know what to expect when I was walking into The Alley Theatre for SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY. I have recently become interested in some true crime as of late, but I never was much of a person who enjoyed the genre of mystery. I always believe the plotlines are clever, and I have a lot of enjoyment trying to decipher the case before the detective does, but I am not one who goes out of my way to find these titillating tales.

Also, I have rarely seen mystery onstage. To be frank, I have only really seen mystery-comedy dinner theatre where the audience chooses who they think the killer is at the end of the show, changing how the story ends each night. I was also in one mystery theatrical production in high school called "While the Lights Were Out"; my character was simply named "The Mysterious Blonde", and I came onto the stage with a bloody knife and a lack of memory. I admit, that was a blast! However, other than these experiences, I have not seen mystery and theatre work together.

Moreover, before I saw this production, I barely knew anything about Sherlock except for the general lore of him being a radically smart detective with a sidekick named Watson (I certainly recognized the statement "My dear Watson" within the show). Sherlock's world was unfamiliar to me, even though I am aware that the character has many books, movies, TV shows, and franchises with his name on it.

Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
Todd Waite Iconically as Sherlock Holmes
in Alley Theatre's Production of
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY
Photography by Lynn Lane

Before the show started-- despite not knowing what to expect-- I was still excited. The set was gorgeous and ornately detailed (phenomenal work, set designer Lawrence E. Moten III!), and reading the program, I was aware of Todd Waite's long history and return as Sherlock at The Alley Theatre. Already knowing his strong acting, I couldn't wait to see what he brought to the table, especially since I have only seen him as comedic characters rather than a cunning, obsessive, intuitive, or methodological being like Sherlock.

Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
Todd Waite as Sherlock Holmes
and Krystel Lucas as Mrs. Lillie Langtry in Conversation
within Alley Theatre's Production of
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY
Photography by Lynn Lane

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY begins with famous-- and historically real-- theatre actress Lillie Langtry ("The Jersey Lily") coming to Sherlock with a problem: she was robbed and personal, compromising letters from the married Prince of Wales were stolen from her. Someone was blackmailing her for 10,000 pounds, or the letters were going to be made public. Our scene is set at this point, but the story-with its many twists and turns--- shows how this crime is not all that it originally seems!

After the show began, the story flew by. I laughed, worried, and gasped in shock and delight as each scene sped by. It was fast-paced, moving from plot point to plot point, engaging with special effects that made my heart race, and showcasing such moving acting within each and every event. When the show ended--although I still wonder if theatre was the right performance medium for this piece-- I was still on my toes and itching for more. I can absolutely say that I was thoroughly impressed by the production, and I would love to see it again to catch more of whatever I missed the first time around. Additionally, it would be entertaining to me to see how characters acted in each scene now knowing the answer to the mystery.

Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
Elizabeth Bunch as Mrs. Irma Tory,
Brandon Hearnsberger as Professor Moriarty,
and Levin Valayil as John Smythe
in Alley Theatre's Production of
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY
Photography by Lynn Lane

The stage was packed with talent. Orlando Arriaga made an amazing and adorable Dr. Watson/Man 2 (although I do wish that we saw more of him throughout the show!). Krystel Lucas was a star through and through as actress Mrs. Lillie Langtry; she was so gorgeous and endearing. Brandon Hearnsberger seemed like such a perfect cast for the enticing and terrifying Professor Moriarty. Levin Valayil (John Smythe/Abdul Karim/Man 1) was hilarious and showed off his ability to switch from character to character with style and ease. Of course, Todd Waite proved to be born for the role of Sherlock Holmes, and I quickly understood why he has been chosen to be Alley Theatre's Sherlock since 2003. However, my favorite actors were no doubtedly Elizabeth Bunch, who played Mrs. Irma Tory/Mrs. McGlynn, and Christopher Salazar, who brought to life a friend of Lillie Langtry's: the one-and-only Oscar Wilde. Wow, were these two actors' comedic timings on the mark every time! I could not help but laugh out loud at their performances.

My only critiques of the show have nothing to do with what the Alley Theatre could do. The acting was engaging and authentic, and the technical designs were encompassing and incredible. However, the piece itself-- written by Katie Forgette-- seemed like it was written for a film set, especially with its short scenes. There were multiple times when a scene ended, and I thought, did I miss something? Is it now intermission? Each black-out for a scene transition ripped me out of the world of the play, and there were just so many of them. No matter how smoothly or quickly a team makes those transitions (which the Alley Theatre did with aplomb), I could never see myself getting lost in the story of this show because of the constant changes going on.

Additionally, at the end of the show, a potential love story was revealed that seemingly came out of nowhere. I questioned it every moment, and it did not seem truthful whatsoever. If this idea is presented-- which I really believe it did not have to be when the story was plenty entertaining as is--we needed more moments of connection and possible romance between the couple in order to make their final conversation believable.

Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
The Cast of Alley Theatre's Production of
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY
Watch The Duel Go Down Between
Sherlock and his Nemesis, Professor Moriarty!
Photography by Lynn Lane

Nevertheless, the show was such fun! The stage fighting was fantastic (thanks to fight director and intimacy specialist Adam Noble). It utilized the whole stage, and the actors jumped on and off furniture while swinging their swords around with ease, fluidity, and speed. I was worried about the actual actors at multiple points, which made the fighting even more thrilling for me!

Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CAST OF THE JERSEY LILY Thrills Its Audiences with Grace and Charm
Christopher Salazar as Oscar Wilde
and Todd Waite as Sherlock Holmes
Dressed in Style
in Alley Theatre's Production of
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY
Photography by Lynn Lane

Furthermore, I have to give a shout-out to the costume design (completed by Sara Ryung Clement), especially when it came to Lillie's and Oscar Wilde's colorful and fabulous pieces. I would love to own Lillie's stunning purple dress, and Oscar Wilde's brown, furry jacket was certainly fashion that I could not keep my eyes off of. Kevin Rigdon's lighting design and Melanie Chen Cole's sound design continued to amp up the excitement, intrigue, and suspense of it all. And last- but not least- director Brandon Weinbrenner did an incredible job of bringing this story to the stage. His dance-like blocking is delightful, and I am sure that putting together a giant show like this was a substantial task, especially with the expectations that come with a tale involving Sherlock. Bravo to all involved; the production was a real treat!


SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May 14 at the Alley Theatre. For more information, call (713) 220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org.




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