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Review: Fun Sherlock Holmes Adventure at Chatham Playhouse

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Sherlock Holmes: Final Adventure-live play

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Attention all Sherlock Holmes fans- the Chatham Players have launched the 2014 portion of their season with a fun tale about the world's most popular detective, the master of deduction, Sherlock Holmes. In case you have been on a desert island, Sherlock is currently an immense media favorite via two recent motion pictures with Robert Downey Jr., the PBS/BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch, and the CBS series "Elementary." The Chatham Playhouse offering is “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” by Stephen Dietz.

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Dietz has cleverly adapted two favorite Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Final Problem" into a light enjoyable melodrama. From "A Scandal in Bohemia" we have the beautiful international opera diva, Irene Adler (Kathleen Campbell Jackson) who is blackmailing her former lover, the soon to be married King of Bohemia (Chip Prestera). Adler has a compromising photograph of her and the King that must not reach his homeland.

When in trouble, as all good Baker Street Irregulars (Holmes' special aficionados) know, no matter your station in life, there is naturally only one person to turn to...the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes (Michael Harvey). The King arrives in London, incognito, quickly making his way to one of literature's most famous addresses...221B Baker Street to enlist the aid of Sherlock Holmes. In the process, Sherlock not only saves the day for the King (now you knew he would) but is himself enamored with the very attractive Adler who is his intellectual equal (note: she is the only woman in whom Doyle permitted Holmes to display any romantic interest).

At the same time, Holmes also must deal with his arch-enemy, the evil master criminal Professor Moriarty (Christopher C. Gibbs) who lures him into a death trap with Adler as bait. Holmes undertakes these adventures with the invaluable assistance of the good Doctor John Watson (Howard Fisher). The "Final Problem" part of the fast moving plot is the fateful fight between Holmes and Moriarty over the Reichenbach Falls where both disappear.

Making an impressive directorial debut at the Chatham Playhouse, Gordon Weiner, a fellow Holmes fan, has nicely cast “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.” First is Michael Harvey as the super sleuth. Harvey is a handsome, agile, properly imposing Holmes right down to his use of pipe and hat. Chatham Playhouse veteran Howard Fisher is spot-on as Watson. He moves well between the stage action and narrating the story. Kathleen Campbell Jackson is perfect as the attractive, but devious Irene Adler. She clearly keeps up with Holmes intellectually. Christopher C. Gibbs gives a spirited performance as the malevolent Moriarty.

Chip Prestera, a major comedy talent, adds humor to the plot as the King of Bohemia. His appearances generated easy smiles from the packed house. Director Weiner deserves credit for casting Prestera. Normally, Watson provides the comedy relief with his bumbling (remember Nigel Bruce's Watson in the 1940's films), but in "The Final Adventure" Weiner has Prestera provide the light-hearted touch with his less than regal appearance. To our knowledge, Deitz wrote the part minus any humor. This may be the point to make it clear that the play is not a "39 Steps" type of wild comedy.

The supporting cast nicely double several roles: Patrick Field as James Larrabee/ Godfrey Norton, Pat Wry as Madge Larrabee and Sean Day as Sid Prince.

Director's Weiner’s talented production team deserve their own ovation. The team includes: Producer Mara Lundstrom; Stage Manager Andrea Herbert; Scenic Designer Roy Pancirov, Scenic Painting Andrea Sickler; Costume Designer Bev Wand, Lighting Designer Henry Siebecker; Sound Designer Joe DeVico; Props and Set Decoration Tish Lum; Make-up Ben Riesebeck; Fight Choreography Steve Ruskin; and Production Coordinator Eileen Johnston.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio March 8, 2014

"Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” by Stephen Dietz, is running until March 22, 2014 at the Chatham Playhouse. The remaining performance dates are March 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 8 PM and March 16 at 3 PM. All performances are at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Avenue, in Chatham. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for youth/senior.

Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office or Online. To access the theater’s online ticketing service, simply go to ccp.ticketleap.com. The service is available 24 hours a day, and tickets can be purchased online up until three hours prior to curtain on the day of a performance. Chatham Playhouse’s box office accepts phone reservations at (973) 635-7363. For information regarding box office hours, please call the box office number listed above.

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