Tonight we open Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure at Wayside Theatre after two extremely successful preview performances on Saturday. As they say the devil is in the details. This show attracts a variety of audiences. First we have our regular theatre goers. Then we have folks who come to Wayside Theatre every October for the “mystery play” we do. Then we have the Sherlock Holmes fans. Each is looking for something different from the play. Those Holmes fans are looking to see how we, and playwright Steven Dietz handle the details. At some points it feels like they have their magnifying glass trained on the stage.
But that’s what it is all about. Delivering on expectations. Our production staging is very open. Scenes flow from one section of the stage to the other in a rather spectacular and seemingly random way, but as Holmes says, it takes a lot of planning to great a random event. Amidst all of this are the details of the plot and the details of the characterizations. The staging is so open that every moment feels like it is very naked on stage. There is no where to hide, so it forces the actors to be at the top of their game, along with our designers. Of course when that comes to special effects and big moments in the story we have to pull them off correctly. Just figuring out how much fog to release in the air has taken a lot of thought and planning. The angle we hold a prop makes all the difference in the world.
I had a talk with an audience member yesterday who loved the show. He’s a big Holmes fan, so much so that he kept insisting that I tell the audience in the curtain speech about the Holmes film opening on Christmas Day. I asked him if he was enjoying the production and he enthusiastically said he was. He kept harping on the upcoming film, and I asked him how much more he liked film than live theatre. He said he loved how film could immerse him in the locations and the environment, but that he relished (his word no mine) how we had created those locales and the environment so effortlessly on stage. He also loved the small details we had brought to the show. I reminded him that on film, it was much easier to get each moment and detail accurate than it was while doing so live on stage and he said the following:
“Oh, yes, you’re right. That’s why live theatre is so magical. It’s happening in front of your face and that’s what makes it so special and delicious.”
Oh, if we could only make everyone see those distinctions.