Saturday, October 8, 2016

Review: The Games Afoot in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily at CSC




Director Carl Wallnau (Centenary Stage Company's highly respected artistic director) nicely brings to life Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 'super sleuth' Sherlock Holmes in a tongue-in-cheek tale "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily" (Note: this refers to the British island of Jersey for which our state was named).

As any lover of detective mysteries knows, Sherlock Holmes is recognized as THE most famous fictional detective. The address of his London home, for example...221B Baker Street...is one of the best known locations in the city...sadly it is a mammoth insurance company building!

This clever play, written by Katie Forgette, includes not only the master of observation, Sherlock Holmes, chronicler Doctor John Watson, and the master criminal Doctor Moriarty, but also playwright Oscar Wilde, who contributes to the humor with an ample supply of witty lines. Several involve the titling of two of his most famous plays (Portrait of Dorian xxxx and The Importance of Being xxxxxxx.

The plot centers on the celebrated actress Lillie Langtry, who is being blackmailed for a long past romantic  indiscretion. Naturally, she turns to Sherlock Holmes for his unique brand of assistance. Sorry, that is the extent of our description of the plot, anything more would defeat the element of mystery, suspense, and action in this fun confection.

The prime, satisfying ingredient in the play is the spot-on casting of the principal roles. Several are returning CSC veterans including the always impressive Colin Ryan as Holmes.  Ryan was last seen in CSC’s acclaimed production of The Ladies' Man (which starred director Wallnau) and recently made his Broadway debut with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot/No Man’s Land.  

Also returning to the CSC stage are Amy Griffin as Lillie's assistant (she is a stand-out talent) and David Sitler as Dr. Watson. Griffin starred in the title role of The English Bride (read our review: http://www.njfootlights.net/2013/04/review-outstanding-new-play-at.html) Sitler was in CSC’s world premiere of Inventing Montana and has Broadway credits including, Frost/Nixon and An Inspector Calls.

Playing Langtry is a very talented Sandy York; Oscar Wilde is played to perfection by Joseph McGranaghan and Nicholas Wilder is properly sinister as Moriarty (Note: Wilder's leaner, hungry look not unlike Basil Rathbone, our favorite Sherlock Holmes, would also make him a candidate for the Holmes part.) The trio , all have impressive New York, Regional Theater and Film/Television credits, are making their Centenary Stage Company debuts.

Rounding out the cast and making their professional debuts are Thomas Farber as Moriarty's man, John Smythe (properly feeble), Ameer Copper as Adul Karim, a queen's messenger and Joseph Amato as Flynn, another of Moriarty's men.

Another key element enhancing the fun is a two-story revolving set designed by Ashleigh Poteat (also responsible for the excellent period costumes). Other members of the staff deserving a 'call-out' are Ed Matthews and John Salutz lighting and sound respectively. Christopher Young choreographed the fencing scene. Edanna Guaimano makeup and the stage manager, Danielle Constance.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio       Oct. 7, 2016

Remaining performances are Thursdays, October 13 and 20 at 7:30 pm; Fridays October 14 and 21 at 8 pm; Saturdays, October 8, 15 and 22 at 8 pm; Sundays, October 9, 16, 23 at 2 pm and Wednesdays, October 12 and 19 at 2 pm.  Centenary Stage Company is also offering buffet matinees for groups of 25 or more on Wednesdays October 12 and 19.  All performances are located in the Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Center.

Tickets for Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily range from $17.50 to $27.50 with discounts for students and children under 12.  Buffet Matinees are available for groups of 25 or more at $42.50/person.  Advance reservations are required.  Centenary Stage Company is also offering a special alumni discount of $10.00 off adult ticket price for Friday evening performances.  Thursday evening performances are “Family Night” $25.00 for ALL SEATS with a buy one/get one rush ticket special when tickets are purchased in person at the CSC box office, as early as, two hours prior to performance time.


For more information or to purchase tickets visit centenarystageco.org or call the CSC box office at (908) 979 – 0900. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5pm and 2 hours prior to every performance. The CSC box office is located in the Lackland Center; 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.  
Cast photo: CSC Bob Eberle

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