Although CenterStage Theatre is actually in Federal Way you wouldn’t guess it from tour drive on Sunday afternoon. After driving around the Port of Tacoma and following Marine View Drive to Brown’s Point and though the lovely fall foliage we parked at the theater on Dumas Bay. After the play we walked around the park-like setting between the theater and Puget Sound. We could see Tacoma off to our left and Vashon Island directly west with the Olympics rising behind. Driving back to Tacoma we have fantastic view after fantastic view of Mount Rainier standing behind the cranes and ships of the port.
The latest production at CenterStage is a “must see” presentation. “The Hound of the Baskerville’s” adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright was a pleasure to watch. Pichette and Wright have been actors in and around Seattle for thirty years and have been working together adapting films/book like “Double Indemnity” and The Hound of the Baskerville’s” for the last couple of years as well.
I enjoyed reading the program at CenterStage and seeing individual ads for Lakewood Playhouse, Tacoma Little Theatre, and Tacoma Musical Playhouse. I like seeing these four theaters helping each other. Many times they share actors, so why not marketing for each other as well? The arts should always help each other.
Directed by CenterStage Artistic Director Trista Duval, “Hound” was almost completely enjoyable. The blocking in the chase scene was absolutely outstanding. While some of the actors physically moved parts of the set plus tables, chairs, and fireplace on stage, the mysterious bad guy wove his way through the streets of London between people and props and finally hid from chasers Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson in the audience by sitting down next to me and watching the play for a few seconds. This was so deftly done, my wife didn’t even know about this until intermission when I remarked about the incident.
The costumes, like the set, fit together nicely and were fantastic. Charles Reccardo as Sir Henry Baskerville, the lord of the manor, could have looked more refined, but he was Canadian after all, so we forgave him.
I mentioned “almost completely enjoyable” earlier. My wife and I have seen five productions so far this season and three of the plays have featured English accents. Most theaters have majority audiences of senior citizens. Seniors have hearing problems at the best of times. Trying to listen and decipher various English accents is a losing proposition. Thank god for Hank from Canada. His character spoke American.
Just like the old black and white movies featuring Basil Rathbone as Holmes, and Nigel Bruce as Watson with Holmes in a disguise a four-year old could see through, this version does the same. Of course Dr. Watson is fooled and irritated when Holmes reveals himself.
Even the pairing of Watson and Holmes was funny. Jacob Tice as Dr. John Watson stands well above Tom Livingston as Holmes, but not quite overshadowing the famous detective. Livingston does a great rundown of information with a few second view from the second story apartment looking down on the street at a stranger that identifies where he came from and whether he is married or not. Holmes has a nice sly comment with a funny rejoinder at the end.
Charles Reccardo as Sir Henry Baskerville was the saving grace. He tied everything together and his sympathetic character made everything work. Shawn Backstrom and Robin Mae Becar as brother and sister worked well together providing both love interest (sister) and obstruction (both). We never see the hound dog and in the end the killer is left slip sliding away.
There was moon lit fog but no mirrors as CenterStage transported us to Grimspound and the bleak moors of Devon.
The characters kept the audience guessing, which is the ideal in a “who done it” and were telegraphing just enough to amuse and entertain. The production is beautifully done.
The play runs through Sunday, October 27th. Get your tickets at app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=102369