BWW Review: BAKER STREET at 42nd Street Moon
As in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, Dr. John Watson (an animated Dan Seda) narrates the tale while Sherlock, Watson and American actress Irene Adler search out the importance of a stack of romantic letters in James Moriarty's next fiendish crime. The script is not quite a full-out comedy, but light humor and character-driven songs make the 1965 musical a good deal of fun.
From the beginning, Sherlock makes his usual outlandish leaps and conjectures, which seem tailor-made for theatre. Sherlock, himself, (Michael Monagle) is set up as a sort of Henry Higgins or King Arthur, with his songs more spoken than sung (the original "Baker Street" came out in the same era as "My Fair Lady" and "Camelot"). Sherlock's sharp wit is somewhat lost in the San Francisco production, where lyrics are at times difficult to understand and actors do not always play well off each other. But individual cast members are brilliant in voice and expression.
The playful song which introduces Irene Adler might be forgettable if not for Abby Haug's superb soprano voice. In contrast to Sherlock's "Cold Clear World," Haug's amiable Adler is lively and adventurous. She confounds him with her comparison of love to "Finding Words for Spring" and counters him in his initial quest to steal her letters. And when Moriarty captures Sherlock, it is she who disobeys orders to seek help. Help comes, but not before Michael Barret Austin can boast of his triumph as a calculating Professor Moriarty sings "I Shall Miss You, Holmes." Fans of the original Sherlock novels will enjoy how things turn out for Moriarity and his hilarious crew (just call it a hidden jewel). Sherlock's own scraggy crew, known as "the Irregulars," also steals the show in vaudevillesque numbers featuring wonderful choreography from director Cindy Goldfield.
These are not necessarily tunes that will leave audiences humming on the way home, but they are very catchy and enjoyable in the moment. As a whole, "Baker Street" calls for a more melodramatic flair in direction, but 42nd Street Moon's production still makes a nice escape from the political mysteries and other troubles currently plaguing the world. The musical is not performed often, and those interested in literary characters may find this a worthy precursor to 42nd Street Moon's next production, "Scrooge in Love."