Question: When is a foot, not a foot?
Answer: When the game’s afoot!
Holmes for the Holidays is a play-within-a-play. When the curtain opens we see the final minutes of a production featuring the character Sherlock Holmes as he solves a crime. The actors take their bows and the Holmes actor sees someone in the audience aiming a gun at him. the actor is shot and wounded and we are off on a laugh filled adventure.
Perhaps, the title should have been Holmes for the Hollandaise. Hollandaise is a divine and tasty concoction as is this latest play at Tacoma Little Theatre. Director Jen York has taken the ingredients and cooked up a great holiday offering that just might become a seasonal tradition.
It is December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette (Dave Champagne), admired the world over for his leading role as the famous London detective Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle for a Christmas weekend of revelry and rivalry. Gillette’s best friend describes the estate, as “Where god would live if he could afford it.” There are hidden rooms, cutting edge electrical devices, and a murder to be solved. Technical Director & Resident Set Designer Blake R. York and Lead Carpenter Frank Roberts have constructed a wonderful set that looks rich and contains the latest modern features . . . and like most high-tech gadgets today, they don’t always work. Some things never change.
Master showman Gillette has not only invited his friends to the party, but also a well-known, vicious gossip columnist, Daria Chase (Danielle Locken) who ruins reputations with truth and innuendo. Daria has the ability to reach out to the dead. She conducts a séance, which produces surprising results.
Not everyone likes Daria. In fact no one does. She’s rude, uppity, and rubs people the wrong way. Soon even Gillette’s semi-sweet mother (Lissa Valentine) is at odds with her.
Arguments are heated and insults fly amid great hilarity. Even phone calls for help offer comedy relief. In the midst of a storm and intermittent power failure, hated Daria is stabbed in the back.
Like they say, a friend will help you move, but a good friend will help you move a body. Gillett’s best friend and longtime acting partner Felix Geisel (Blake R. York) is enlisted in a high-stakes game of body hiding. Like the classic 1989 film A Weekend at Bernie’s, there are not too many things funnier than lugging around a dead body. Felix tries to stuff the body of Daria into a closet to hide it. The body does not cooperate. Hilarity ensues . . . leaving clues . . . as the laughing continues. This sequence is priceless. Absolutely priceless.
Soon a local police inspector (Anne Marie Rutt) arrives on the scene. There are enough twists and turns to implicate everyone in the estate. Who committed the murder? How many murders are there to be solved? The list goes on and on. Alibis and lightning strike and fade. In the end nothing was as it seemed.
The play is written by successful Broadway plotter Ken Ludwig. Tacoma Little Theatre successfully produced his farce Lend Me Tenor some years ago.
Dave Champagne as William Gillette leads us on a merry chase. Blake R. York as Gillette’s best friend has funny body movement down to a science. Danielle Locken as the gossip closet bitch was outstanding. Heidi Walworth-Horn, Frank Roberts, and Robin Mae Becar all performed killer roles . . . or did they? The women were on equal footing with the men as plotters and suspects.
Tacoma Little Theatre has added an extra performance – Thursday, December 26, 2019 at 7:30pm as well as a special “Pay What You Can” showing on Thursday, December 19th at 7:30pm.
Holmes for the Holidays runs thru December 29th. For ticket information – tacomalittletheatre.com/blog/20192020/holmes