Thursday, September 10, 2020

Culver City Public Theatre presents "Sherlock Holmes Meets the Bully of Baker Street"

Brian Knoebel as
Alma Tadema-Lawrence
(CCPT, 2020)
Last night was a treat. Chennelle and Chelsea joined us for some late summer, socially-distanced deck time so we could watch the premiere of the Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) production of Sherlock Holmes Meets the Bully of Baker Street.

This is the second production of that script. The folks at CCPT, who produced Rosalynde & the Falcon last year, were intending to offer performances of About a Ghoul to their audiences as their annual, free, outdoor summer show for families. Things being how they are, they thought a mystery might be better suited to the medium.

At first they considered a live “Zoom” performance, opting instead for something pre-recorded, with surprising results!

California is three hours behind us, so I made the mistake of thinking last night’s 6:00 PM showing would be during one of my classes. When I finally put it together that it would be, in fact, at nine (eastern) … well, then I thought I might see it. I might not. I haven’t been sleeping well. I might wait and see it this weekend.

Richard Rosales (left) in
"Rosalynde & the Falcon"
(CCPT, 2019)
I told all of this to Chennelle late in the afternoon and she invited herself over -- which was just all right with me! We rarely see each other (we all rarely see anyone anymore, of course) and besides, she originated the main character of Vicky for the inaugural production for Great Lakes Theater.

I don’t just mean she was the first to perform the role, either. I wrote it for her. I was so happy to get to watch this with her.

We all sat out on the deck, beneath the fairy lights, six feet apart, drinking seltzer in the open air, on an appropriately cool September evening, and were treated to an engagingly loopy COVID-era production.

Richard Rosales is the titular detective. He played the King in CCPT’s Rosalynde in the park, and brought his high haughty humor to the character of Sherlock Holmes as well, while Ashley J. Woods as Vicky is like a Covent Garden flower seller channeled by Catherine Tate’s schoolgirl Lauren Cooper, and they make a charming pair of sleuths.

King Edward busts a move.
Scene-stealers include Brian Knoebel who was killing it with his drag renditions of Miss Barnaby and boho artiste Alma Tadema-Lawrence (he left us cackling with glee) and the precious young Maggie McKissick as Annie, the orphan, in an actual curly red wig and moppet’s dress.

Director Marina Curtis Tidwell did not merely direct a play, she produced a TV show, complete with music and Pythonesque animations. Marina truly did a remarkable job keeping the edits tight and timely.

Each actor created their own scenes in their own homes, provided costumes, backdrops and set pieces by the company to give a coherent look. The production would not look out of place on your local PBS station, a playful mystery for kids with some historic educational value and a strong anti-bullying message. 

First Reading
(August 25, 2019)

They were even able to incorporate the “choices” that are intended to be offered to a live, child audience -- “should I do A or B?” In this case, the actor looks at the camera to consult the viewer (a Blue’s Clues moment) though in this case the outcome is predetermined.

It is shocking to me, shocking, that it was one a year ago that a number of us clustered together on our deck to hold the first reading of this script. Chelsea and Chennelle were there, too -- Chelsea reading Vicky and Chennelle the Barney track. If we knew then what we know now, right? It is a mystery.

Last night I slept like a baby.

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