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BWW Reviews: Ken Ludwig's BASKERVILLE is Uniquely Enjoyable

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Ken Ludwig's BASKERVILLE, a Sherlock Holmes Mystery, opened Friday, March 13, at the McCarter Theater Center in Princeton, NJ, under the adroit direction of Amanda Dehnert, with a most uniquely entertaining adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles.

The plot maintained the requisite mystery components of the original: murder, greed, and love. Ludwig wanted to create "an adventure in theater-making itself," and in this adventure of Holmes and Watson, he was highly successful.

It was a spellbinding performance, though not because of the plot, which was a thriller when written a century ago - it was the total theater experience that captivated the audience's attention throughout the two-act, two-hour play.

The cast of five played almost fifty different characters among them. Gregory Wooddell and Lucas Hall expertly played Holmes and Watson, respectively. Michael Glenn, Stanley Bahorek, and Jane Pfitsch demonstrated a wide range of ability in playing the complementary myriad of figures with whom the dynamic duo came across in their quest to find Sir Charles Baskerville's murderer.

The performance's characters were diverse, and acted at times with exaggerated affect reminiscent of figures of other productions. The Cockney accented teens giving the detectives a lead had similarities to the Artful Dodger in Annie, and the ghoulish male domestic servant at the Baskerville residence was comparable to his counterpart Riff Raff in Rocky Horror.

The rapid costume changing delighted those in the packed theater. Glenn's, Bahorek's, and Pfitsch's perpetual changes were expedited by having costumes tossed to them by assistants just off stage, handed to them through an on-stage trap door by an Addams Family-type Thing, and their dressing on stage.

The script included many amusing moments, including when Holmes' continuing a nurse's stroking a dazed Watson's hand furthered the enjoyment of his unsuspecting partner.

Props' demonstrable appearances and use also made the audience smile. Daisies dropped from above to create instant gardens on stage and a portable hotel reservations desk could have sufficed as a vintage display tray used by a cigarette girl in a nightclub.

In the end, Holmes and Watson solved the case, but no one really cared. The true pleasure came from participating in the unique celebration of the experience. BASKERVILLE is an adventure that is enjoyable for everyone, in the audience and on the stage.

Set design by Daniel Ostling; costume design by Jess Goldstein; lighting design by Philip S. Rosenberg; sound design by Joshua Horvath and Ray Nardelli; wig design by Gillian Lane-Plescia; fight director: Thomas Schall; casting director: David Caparelliotis, CSA; associate artistic director: Adam Immerwahr; production stage manager: Alison Cote; and director of publication: David York.

McCarter Theater Center artistic director/resident playwright: Emily Mann; managing director: Timothy J. Shields

BASKVERVILLE is playing at the McCarter Theater Centre, located at 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ, through March 29. Ticket information can be found at www.McCarter.org or by calling the Box Office at 609-258-2787.


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Dr. Byron has accomplished the educational leadership trifecta: superintendent in public schools, headmaster in private schools, and head of school in charter schools. In addition, (read more...)

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