Peninsula Players Theatre will present a play reading of Christopher M. Walsh’s “Miss Holmes” on Monday, April 3 at 7 p.m. at Björklunden, 7590 Boynton Lane, Baileys Harbor. “Miss Holmes” is a thrilling new murder mystery inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is the final offering of The Play’s the Thing, a winter play reading series produced by Peninsula Players for the Door County community. General seating is available; no admission fee.
Walsh’s Holmes and Watson are intelligent, independent woman in 19th Century England, a time when society did not value those attributes, female rebellion was not tolerated and social class distinctions were clearly set. Neither woman abides by the conventions of the times. Rather, they forego domestic accomplishments in the pursuit of helping other women in peril. Trapped in an era that refuses to accept them, these unconventional women work together to uncover the secrets surrounding the past of a corrupt Scotland Yard investigator whose previous two wives turned up dead.
“Fans of Doyle’s Sherlock Homes will recognize the familiar characters of Mycroft Holmes, Inspector Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson and others” said Peninsula Players Artistic Director Greg Vinkler. “But by gender reversing Holmes and Watson, Walsh is not writing a spoof but rather taking a serious (and fun) look at the Victorian era from the viewpoint of two intelligent, empathetic women who find themselves embroiled in a dangerous and engaging mystery. Audiences who love the Conan Doyle stories will be delighted with this novel take on the fascinating world of Sherlock Holmes.”
Absolute resolve drives Dorothy Watson to becomes one of the first women to pass the medical examinations in Edinburgh, Scotland. With that same determination she began writing novels under a male “nom de plume” to pay for her schooling. Doctor Watson struggles to make a difference at the Royal Free Hospital, the only London hospital that will hire female doctors. She meets Holmes while considering a marriage proposal that would negate her hard-earned education and independence.
Miss Holmes’ gripping fascination with intellectual problems deems her less than fully human not only to society, but also to her family. She often finds herself confined to mental institutions for behaviors deemed abnormal in a “respectable lady” and is constantly restrained in her actions by her older brother, Mycroft.
Mrs. Lizzy Chapman seeks the aid of Holmes and Watson upon receiving letters warning her that Thomas, her husband, who works at Scotland Yard, is not all he appears to be. Inspector Chapman was recently cleared of involvement in the drowning death of Katherine Featherstone, his second wife, by the coroner’s office. The investigation left Inspector Geoffrey Lestrade dissatisfied, unsettled and suspicious of Chapman’s innocence.
Lizzy arrives on the doorstep of 221B Baker Street utterly distraught when Eudora Featherstone, Katherine’s mother, is found dead. Holmes then asks Watson, “You really wish to participate?” “No,” is Watson’s honest answer. “This entire enterprise seems foolish at best, and dangerous at worst. But on one point I agree with you: If we do not help, who will?”
The cast of “Miss Holmes” includes several Peninsula Players veterans including Cassandra Bissell (“Proof,” “Is He Dead?” “Around the World in 80 Days”); Neil Brookshire (“The 39 Steps”); McKinley Carter (“The Game’s Afoot,” “Sunday in the Park with George,”); Amy Ensign (“Who am I this Time (& Other Conundrums of Love”)); Anne Herring (“Go Back for Murder”); Maggie Kettering (“Outside Mullingar,” “Lend Me a Tenor”); James Krag (“Witness for the Prosecution”); Chad Luberger (“The Who and the What”); Mark Moede (“The Hollow,” “The Full Monty”); and Vinkler (“Chapatti,” “Butler”).
Bissell has numerous Peninsula Players stage credits and is cast as Sherlock Holmes. Her additional stage credits include: Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cleveland Play House, Court Theatre, Great Lakes Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Next Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Bissell is currently performing at First Folio Theatre in “Silent Sky.”
Brookshire portrayed Richard Hannay in the Peninsula Players production of “The 39 Steps” and Bottom in Door Shakespeare’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Cinna in “Julius Caesar.” He will read various parts including Watson’s love interest and orderlies. His regional work includes “Sense and Sensibility” at Pennsylvania’s People’s Light Theatre and several seasons with Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. He has worked with Boise Contemporary Theater, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Opera Idaho, Seattle Novyi Theatre and 10 seasons with Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Carter is cast as Mrs. Hudson, Watson’s colleague Dr. Anderson and Eudora Featherstone. Her Chicago credits include Mercury Theatre’s “The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes” and “The Merry Widow” and “Carousel” with Lyric Opera. Her additional credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Porchlight Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre and the Goodman Theatre. Carter recently appeared on the television program “Chicago Fire.”
Kettering is cast as Doctor Watson and returns from the reading of “Population 485.” Her regional stage credits include Great Lakes Theater, House Theatre, TimeLine Theatre, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Northlight Theatre, Irish Theatre of Chicago, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Warehouse Theatre, Virginia Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Delaware Theatre Company.
Krag is cast as diligent Inspector Gregory Lestrade. His Chicago credits include the Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and more. Broadway credits include the original production of “Burn This” and “Mill Fire” at Women’s Project Theater and among his film and television credits are “While You Were Sleeping,” “Mercury Rising,” “Prison Break,” “Early Edition,” “E.R.” and a recurring role on “Missing Persons.”
Vinkler, who will direct, is cast as Mycroft Holmes. He portrayed the title character in the Peninsula Players production of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” and recently performed in “Chapatti” and “Alabama Story.” Vinkler’s stage work in Chicago includes Chicago Shakespeare (36 productions), Goodman, Theatre Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Shubert Theatre, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire and Victory Gardens Theater. He has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards (nominated 12 times), two Artisan Awards and an After Dark Award.
Ensign, Herring, Luberger and Moede all call Door County home and all have stage credits with various theatrical companies including Door Shakespeare, Northern Sky Theater, Rouge Theater, Third Avenue Playhouse (TAP) and Peninsula Players Theatre. Ensign, Luberger and Moede participated in The Play’s the Thing reading of Michael Perry’s “Population 485” in February.
Ensign’s credits include six seasons at Door Shakespeare, “A Bed Among the Lentils” for Theatre M, “The Spitfire Grill” at Northern Sky Theater and “Steel Magnolias” and “Shirley Valentine” at TAP. Ensign is cast as the endangered Lizzie Chapman, Peggy and Martha.
Herring recently appeared in the reading of “When the World Was Green (A Chef’s Fable)” at TAP and its production of “The House of Blue Leaves.” She also serves as house manager for Northern Sky Theater. Herring will narrate the reading.
Luberger is cast as the dubious Inspector Thomas Chapmen. His credits include Northern Sky’s production of “When Butter Churns to Gold;” “Assassins” at Isadoora Theater; “Almost Maine” at TAP; “Life on the Mississippi” and “The Bachelors” at Northern Sky Theater. Film and television credits include “The Christmas Tree,” “Ed Gein,” “Star Trek Voyager” and “Jag.”
Moede is cast as Chapman’s lackey Edwin Greener and the Superintendent. His recent Door County credits include the Peninsula Players’ reading of “Population 485” and production of “The Hollow” and “The Full Monty,” “True West” with TAP as well as performances at Door Community Auditorium, Town Hall Bakery of Jacksonport, Woodwalk Gallery and Theatre M, which he co-founded with his wife Mary White.
The Play’s the Thing is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, as well as generous grants from the Door County Community Foundation, Door County Medical Center, Friends of Door County Libraries as well as operating funds from Peninsula Players Theatre.
Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre. The Play’s the Thing is part of the Players’ continued winter outreach programming, presenting professional play readings for the public. Learn more about Peninsula Players and its 2017 season at www.peninsulaplayers.com.