Who killed Sir Charles Baskerville? Could there be any truth to the legend of a supernatural hound? These questions and more will be unraveled in a new comedic mystery play from Theatrical Outfit. A playful and wildly ambitious reinterpretation of one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most enduring mystery stories, “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” presents a cast of five brave actors portraying 40 different characters. “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes was joined by actors John Keabler, who plays Sherlock Holmes, and Gina Rickicki, who plays 14 different characters. The show debuts Wednesday at Balzer Theatre at Herren’s and runs through Dec. 19.
“It is a very complicated [story.] It is one of murder and deceit, and missing identities and subterfuge, and escaped convicts, and horrifying butlers. It’s just so crazy, and it’s almost so crazy that it stumps Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself,” said Keabler.
The new story, written by Ken Ludwig, demands superhuman feats of versatility and skill from its five actors. “I am convinced based on the number of insanely quick costume changes and character changes that he is, indeed, a sadist,” said Rikiki. “Fantastic sense of humor, but a sadist nonetheless.” Actors will be switching at lightning speed between full Victorian-era garb, wigs and makeup. Like Rickicki, Kathryn Tkel also plays 14 characters — all male roles, in her case.
“It’s very much like choreography. You end up having a choreographed way of laying out your costumes and working with your team backstage in order to make sure that you are able to make the changes, and sometimes, two or three lines. But it ends up being this large dance … There’s a dance that’s happening backstage, and there’s one that’s happening on stage,” said Rickicki.
Keabler, an actor steeped in Shakespeare but admittedly fond of “shenanigans,” described his new incarnation of the illustrious fictional detective. “I’m a more playful actor overall, and so I feel like you’re going to see more of that from Sherlock. He’s not the stiff way that, you know, Benedict Cumberbatch — what a hack,” Keabler joked. “So you’re going to see more playfulness, more goofiness; a little sparkle in his eye. Maybe even a little ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ occasionally.”
“If they don’t do all their costume changes in time, you will get to see Sherlock Holmes do a little improv,” the actor also teased.
“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” is at Theatrical Outfit’s Balzer Theatre at Herren’s through Dec. 19. Tickets and more information are available at www.theatricaloutfit.org/shows/baskerville.