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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sherlock Holmes Comes to Peninsula Players Stage!


Peninsula Players sent us this Press Release reminder! You may think it's elementary, but Sherlock is in town!

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Fish Creek, Wisconsin –Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater, opens Steven Dietz’s “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle. For the first time in the Peninsula Players 73 years, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Professor Moriarty, all literary icons, will grace the Players’ stage, Sept. 3 – Oct. 19.

Dietz took William Gillette’s four act-play “Sherlock Holmes” and several of Doyle’s short stories including “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final Problem” and blended them together to create the new stage work. “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” was awarded the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery play.

Dietz’s version, as Gillette’s, has the Victorian super-hero duo of Holmes and Watson rescuing a kidnapped damsel in distress, seeking a scandalous photo in Victorian London’s seamy underworld and an inventible battle against the Napoleon of crime, Professor Moriarty.

Early in Doyle’s writing career he was approached by Broadway producer Charles Frohman to write a play. Doyle did so to shore-up his bank account. Frohman tactfully asked the very successful American actor and playwright William Gillette to take a look at it.

After reading the script, Gillette asked Doyle for permission to revise it. Doyle agreed, and when the actor asked permission to alter the Holmes persona, Doyle said, "You may marry him, murder him, or do anything you like to him." By the time Gillette's revisions were sent back, little was left of Doyle's original script. The author's pithy comment to Gillette was: "It's good to see the old chap again."

Gillette, a handsome matinee idol in his time, knew to have box office success a bit of romance for Holmes was needed and added the character of Alice Faulkner. Likewise, Dietz adds romance to Holmes’ life. Dietz, however, adds a female intellectual known in the Holmes’ canon as Irene Adler into the plot. Adler is referred to as “The woman” by Watson and Doyle in Holmes stories. Holmes’ famous female rival, Adler, is the adventuress who was a former love of the King of Bohemia.

Dietz admits he is not an expert on Sherlock Holmes, but rather he is a writer of plays. In the notes to his script Dietz says Holmes tales are proudly and unapologetically archetypal stories where bad people do bad things, good people suffer and a coolly rational detective, armed with little more than guile and wit, solves the crime. The stories last because readers remember the man. Holmes is complex; he craves adventure, solitude, escape and elations. He is anxious, moody, vain, opinionated, caustic and empirical. He could wipe the floor with Donald Trump.

Peninsula Players Artistic Director Greg Vinkler will don the infamous deerstalker and play the legendary Sherlock Holmes with fellow Players’ veteran James Leaming as Dr. Watson.
Vinkler has played other historical figures at the Players including Sir Thomas Moore in “A Man for All Seasons” and Salieri in “Amadeus.” He also portrayed characters in Players’ mysteries “The Woman in Black” and “The Mousetrap” as well as last fall’s comedy “Be My Baby.”

For his work with the Players, Vinkler was honored with the inaugural Door County Artist of the Year Award. Vinkler has appeared at Chicago Shakespeare in 32 productions – most recently “The Comedy of Errors” and “Othello” and at Goodman, Steppenwolf, Writer's, Northlight, Marriott Lincolnshire and Victory Gardens. He has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards (and been nominated 12 times), two Artisan Awards, and an After Dark Award. He has performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, playing Falstaff in the two parts of “Henry IV” for Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Leaming, in his eighth season at the Players, will be familiar to audience from his roles in “The Foreigner,” “Caught in the Net,” “Red Herring,” “Be My Baby,” “A Man for All Seasons,” “Born Yesterday,” “Mousetrap” and “Cabaret.” Leaming’s most recent Chicago credits include the world premiere of “Botanic Garden,” directed by Olympia Dukakis with his wife Carmen Roman at Victory Gardens.

Cast in the roles of Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty are Karen Janes Woditsch and Bill Bannon. Woditsch is in her fourth season with the Players where past roles include Mrs. Kendall in “The Elephant Man,” Alexandrina in “The Uneasy Chair” and Dunyasha in “The Cherry Orchard.” She has performed on various Chicago stages which include Writers’ Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. She will be at the Goodman again this winter as Mrs. Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol.”

Bannon made his Players’ debut this season in “Rumors” and steps into the shoes of Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty. Bannon has been an actor in the Chicago area for more than 20 years, performing on the stages of Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman, Court, Steppenwolf, TimeLine, Victory Gardens, Pegasus Players and Strawdog Theaters. Recently he played Maish Resnik in Shattered Globe’s acclaimed production of “Requiem for a Heavyweight.”

Directing “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” for the Players is Jim Corti. Corti last appeared on the Players stage in “Out of Order” and choreographed “Crazy for You.” Corti debuted on Broadway in “Candide,” performed in “A Chorus Line” and appeared and disappeared as Harry Houdini in the original cast of “Ragtime.” Corti’s Broadway national tours include “Cabaret,” Bob Fosse's “Dancin’” and “Urinetown.” In Chicago, he earned Jeff Awards playing Otto Kringelien in “Grand Hotel” at the Marriott Theatre, for choreography of “Singin’ in the Rain” at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace and for directing “Blues in the Night” at Northlight Theatre.

Also under the direction of Corti in “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” will be Kevin McKillip, as a suave gentleman with diabolical intentions; Maggie Carney as Madge, Adler's maid; Ted Evans as a masked man seeking Holmes’ services; Joe Foust as a henchman of Moriarty’s, and Katie Clark playing the roles of post-boy and young Swiss man.

“Adventure never ends, Watson,” Holmes said. “It is a series of lessons with the greatest for last.” “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” will be at the Players through Oct. 19.
The Players perform Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. with a matinee performance at 4 p.m., Sunday October 19. Ticket prices are $32.25 and $29; there are no performances on Mondays. For more information on “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” or to reserve tickets, phone the Players’ box office at 920-868-3287 or visit the website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.

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