Holmes Sweet Holmes

Holmes Sweet Holmes Programme Cover

or "The Old Time Music Hall Mystery"

Written & Directed by Laurie Heatherington

A musical play based on the stories of Sherlock Holmes

Loosely based on "A Scandal in Bohemia" & "The Case of the Illustrious Client" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

November 2002

Wednesday 27th at 7.45 pm
Thursday 28th at 7.45 pm
Friday 29th at 7.45 pm
Saturday 30th at 7.45 pm

There are some pictures on Holmes Sweet Holmes gallery page

The full programme [364K pdf] for this production is available from the archive

Programme Notes

The Guild Players first performed this piece back in 1988, on the centenary of the appearance of the very first Sherlock Holmes story, "A Study in Scarlet". Fourteen years on and this revival coincides with both the centenary of Conan Doyle's knighthood and the publication of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" in The Strand Magazine. Last month Sherlock Holmes became the first fictional character to be awarded an honorary fellowship by The Royal Society of Chemistry for being the first detective to exploit chemical science as a means of solving crime. This play is itself a fiendish bit of alchemy, blending together elements of two Sherlock Holmes stories, mixing in a selection of period songs, and setting the result upon the stage of a Victorian Music Hall.

Act I

1 : An Old London Town Street
2 : Holmes's Rooms at 221b Baker Street
3 : The Stage of the Old Collins Music Hall
4 : Backstage at the Music Hall
5 : Holmes's Rooms at 221b Baker Street
6 : An Old London Street

Act II

1 : The Stage of the Old Collins Music Hall
2 : Outside Briony Lodge, St Johns Wood
3 : Inside St Monica's Church
4 : Backstage at the Music Hall
5 : An Old London Town Street

Beerbohm Stump, adroitly adept at alliterationLaurie Heatherington
Sherlock Holmes, the doyen of detectivesDavid Constable
Dr John Watson, his solid supporterMike Sparks
Gertrude Hudson, landlady extraordinaireJudith Shrank
The King of Bohemia, a man of mysteryPaul Sparks
The Baker Street Irregulars, tattered but true
   WigginsLynda Gordon
   SmugginsVictoria Ferri
   HigginsTej Agheda
   NogginsVikki Harris
Irene Adler, the diva divineCatherine Weaver
Tillie, feats of strength and memoryJill Brooksbank
Kitty Winter, springing from the chorusJennifer Lewis
Godfrey Norton, seen by all the best judgesNick Johnson
Violet de Merville, only a soldier's daughterKirsty Lincoln
The Baron Gruner, elegantly evilBill Davey
Gorgiano, dastardly deeds dreadfully doneBeryl Cotton
Professor Moriarty, still an infant in infamyStewart Shrank
Shinwell Johnson, the cockney costerAri Gnanamuttu
The Chorus of the Old Collins Music HallSally Martin
 Ann Hefford
 & Members of the Company
Musical Director and PianoCarole Clarke
FluteKirsty Tavendale
GuitarHarry Mackie
DrumsCharles Harvey
Production Team
Stage ManagerNick Johnson
Set ConstructionDavid Constable
 Mike Sparks
Scenic ArtistsMari I'Anson
 Beryl Cotton
 Sinead Hughes
CostumesJenny Sparks
 Irene Sparks
LightingBrian Clayfield
PromptBetty Robertson
Company ManagerWilliam Lloyd
Company SupportVera Mitchell
Front of House ManagementJohn Savage
 Alan Jobson
Box OfficeBetty Burgess
 Norman Burgess
Programme & PublicityDavid Constable

Wedgewood writes...

The Guild Players tell me that they only do Pantomime once every two years. Their presentation of Laurie Heatherington's clever adaptation of two Conan Doyle short stories sometimes came very close to proving this not to be the case.

Set in an Old Time Music Hall this was a production which had all the colour and music of pantomime close coupled with much of the smooth Victoriana which is essentially Conan Doyle. The actors therefore had to be very careful that they did not sink into a traditional over the top Panto style at the cost of losing Heatherington's very clever working of these two Sherlock Holmes stories.

The performance I saw did seem to lack some of the pace which I might have expected from a Music Hall setting, and some of those I spoke to in the audience did feel that it was difficult to hear some of the dialogue. This aside, we had two hours very acceptable entertainment from a twenty-one strong Company that contained a wide variety of age range and ability levels. It was clear to me that this was a company of actors who were also singing, rather than a company of singers who were acting!

With some thirty or so Music Hall songs, some well known, some adaptations to fit the plot, the four piece band led by Carole Clarke did well to keep proceedings on track. Words of some of the songs were printed in the programme, but seeing them in the darkened hall was something of a challenge.

Not only did Laurie Heatherington write and direct the production, he also led from the front by taking the role of Music Hall Chairman. There were particularly strong performances from David Constable (Holmes); Mike Sparks (Watson); Judith Shrank (Mrs Hudson); and Jennifer Lewis (Kitty Winter). Good support came from Paul Sparks (King of Bohemia); newcomers Catherine Weaver (Irene Adler) and Kirsty Lincoln (Violet de Merville); and from Jill Brooksbank (Tillie) and Guild Players regular Nick Johnson (Godfrey Norton).

The diffident dancing which accompanied some of the songs was rescued by Ari Gnanumuttu's (Shinwell Johnson) masterclass in Act 2. Where the production really almost lapsed Pantomime was with the baddies. Baron Gruner (Bill Davey); and his sidekicks Moriarty (Stewart Shrank); and Gorgiano (Beryl Cotton) could have been the Squire and Brokers men from any Panto you care to mention.

Sherlock Holmes band of Baker Street Irregulars were played by Lynda Gordon; Victoria Ferri; Tej Agheda; and Vikki Harris. Other members of the cast were Sally Martin and Anne Hefford.

The excellent costumes by Jenny and Irene Sparks added to a good evening's entertainment from a Company which is confident enough to ring the changes in it's productions.


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