OCT cracks ‘Baskerville: A Sherlock Mystery’

By Tammy Asnicar for Revels

Ken Ludwig’s fast-paced comedic whodunit with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on the case pushes all the perfect buttons, says Rick Robinson, who directs Oregon Cabaret Theater’s fall production of “Baskerville: A Sherlock Homes Mystery.”

“I love Ken’s work, and as an aficionado of Holmes, I jumped right on it when the rights to the play were released,” he says.

“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” previews Thursday, Sept. 14, opens Friday, Sept. 15, and runs through Nov. 5, at the dinner theater, on the corner of First and Hargadine streets in Ashland. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays; 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Preview tickets are $22. Tickets for all other shows are $22 or $36. Reservations are required for pre-show dinners or brunch. In the OCT tradition, chef Scott Frankenberger has designed a menu just for the production and concocted show-themed adult beverages. Go to oregoncabaret.com to see what’s cooking. Appetizers, beverages and desserts are available without reservations.

Student rush tickets are available 30 minutes before curtain with valid student identitification. There is a 20 percent discount for groups of 10 or more. Call the box office at 541-488-2902

Robinson — who directed Ludwig’s “Leading Ladies” earlier this year for Collaborative Theater Project — says he appreciates the playwright’s craft of language.

He adds that “Baskerville” has all the silliness of “Moon Over Buffalo” and the lightning-fast pace of “Lend Me a Tenor” — both Tony award-winning works by Broadway veteran Ludwig.

“Baskerville” is a retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous thriller “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

“We join Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson mid-career, about ready to retire from their adventures when Dr. James Mortimer asks Holmes to investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville,” Robinson says. “Baskerville’s death is attributed to a heart attack, but Mortimer is suspicious.”

Mortimer now fears for Sir Charles’ nephew and sole heir, Sir Henry Baskerville.

Unconvinced that the elder Baskerville’s cause of death was because of a family curse or that he was haunted by the hound from hell, Holmes and Watson nevertheless take on the case.

“There are enough clues and past family crimes to intrigue the crime-solvers,” Robinson says.

And, so begins the fun as the intrepid pair becomes entangled in a dizzying web of clues, disguises and deceit. No stone is left unturned, and no suspect innocent until proven guilty.

“It’s a massive story to tell in such a little space,” Robinson says of the Cabaret’s intimate venue.

“What’s fun about this show is you get one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysteries done in the same fast-paced, theatrical style of ‘The 39 Steps.’ Part of the pleasure in a show like this is watching the actors change so rapidly from one character to the next as Holmes and Watson meet potential suspects and allies.”

As in “The 39 Steps” — a Hitchcock spoof Robinson also directed — the small cast of five actors must be quick-change artists as they tackle more than 40 characters.

OCT alums Tony Carter, Galen Schloming and Stephen Kline share leading roles and then some. Schloming plays Holmes’ friend and partner Dr. John Watson. Carter and Kline alone tackle more than 25 characters in the madcap mystery.

Matt Koenig plays Sherlock Holmes and makes his OCT debut — as does Mia Mekjian, who portrays every female character in the play.

“The cast is a group of incredibly funny people,” Robinson says. “It’s a joy to watch them make the play come alive and share their gift for physical comedy.”

“Baskerville” is chock full of mystery, danger, suspense, romance and comedy and a good fit for a family-fun night out, Robinson says. He adds, however, that dark elements of the play may not be appropriate for young children.

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