Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional resident summer theater, is proud to announce performances of “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” beginning on September 6 for a six-week run at Door County’s premiere professional theater. The cast includes Christie Coran, Allen Gilmore, Steve Pickering, Kevin Tre’von Patterson and Eric Damon Smith. The fast-paced comic mystery will run through October 15 and is generously sponsored by Door County Medical Center, Barbara & Richard Board and Margaret & Dale West.
Sherlock Holmes is arguably the world’s most famous fictional character; as a detective, he was the first to use science to catch criminals. His adventures, as chronicled by Dr. Watson, captured readers’ attention when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the two criminalists were serialized and published in The Strand and newspapers worldwide. Avid readers of all ages would anxiously wait for the next installment and rush to the newsstands for the latest editions. Doyle wanted to explore other forms of literature and was tired of writing adventures for the characters; he eventually wrote “The Final Problem” in 1893 to kill off Holmes. Readers were outraged and clamored to bring Holmes back, but Doyle refused to ponder the idea. “If I had not killed Sherlock Holmes,” he said in 1896 in the New Zealand Times, “he would have killed me.”
While on vacation in 1901, Doyle’s friend Fletcher Robinson told him about the legend of the hound from Dartmoor, Devonshire. Later that year, Doyle wrote “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which he called a “real creeper.” He needed a strong lead character, and rather than creating a new one, he made a prequel to “The Final Problem” and revisited Holmes and Watson.
It is this story that Ken Ludwig used to create the comedy-mystery “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” which will perform at Peninsula Players Theatre from September 6 – October 15. The male heirs of the Baskerville line are being killed off one by one, and Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must brave the gloomy and foreboding foggy moors, quicksand and monsters before a family curse dooms its newest heir. With five actors portraying more than 40 characters, be prepared for a pulse-pounding, murderously funny adventure.
Ludwig has had six shows on Broadway, seven in London’s West End and many of his works have become a standard part of the American repertoire. His 32 plays and musicals have been performed in over 30 countries, in more than 20 languages, and are produced throughout the United States every night of the year. “Lend Me a Tenor” won two Tony Awards and was called “one of the classic comedies of the 20th century” by The Washington Post. “Crazy For You” was on Broadway for five years and won the Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical.
Portraying the infamous detective duo are two Lunt-Fontanne Fellows, each making their Peninsula Players Theatre debuts: Allen Gilmore as Sherlock Holmes and Steve Pickering as Dr. Watson. The Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program hosted by Wisconsin’s Ten Chimneys Foundation is a national program to serve American theater. Every year, eight to 10 of the country’s most accomplished regional theater actors are invited to participate in a weeklong master class and retreat with a world-renowned and respected Master Teacher. In their cases: Jason Alexander and Phylicia Rashad.
Gilmore has played many iconic roles, including Othello, Cyrano, Iago, Ichabod Crane, Ebenezer Scrooge and many more. Earlier this summer, he created the title role of “Malvolio” in the world premiere of that play at the Classical Theatre of Harlem in New York City. He is the recipient of the 2015 3Arts Prize and the 2019 Nicholas Rudall Prize. He has performed on stages across the United States, Canada and Europe and is excited to portray another iconic character on his bucket list, Sherlock Holmes.
Pickering is an actor, director and playwright who has performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, at the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park, in London’s West End, and with many major regional theaters nationwide. His play, “Tales of Men and Ghosts,” was featured in Peninsula Players Theatre’s 2019 winter play reading series The Play’s the Thing. Pickering is a Goodman Theatre Creative Partner – having appeared in over 35 productions there since 1987 – and was a member of the Goodman’s 2019/20 Playwrights Unit.
Among the three actors portraying the many characters Holmes and Watson come across on their adventure is Christie Coran, who returns for her second season to Peninsula Players Theatre where she performed in “Ghost the Musical” and “A Murder is Announced.” Some of Coran’s stage credits include The Athenaeum Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Theatre at the Center and performing improv with iO Theater.
Making their Peninsula Players Theatre debuts are Kevin Tre’von Patterson and Eric Damon Smith. Patterson performed in the United States premiere of “Routes” at Remy Bumppo Theatre and was in Raven Theatre’s “The Scottsboro Boys,” which received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Ensemble. Patterson’s television credits include “61st Street” (CW), “Chicago P.D.” (NBC), “Mindhunter” (Netflix) and “Power Book IV: Force” (Starz).
Smith is a Wisconsinnative whose stage credits span from performing Shakespeare with Great Lakes Theater and Idaho Shakespeare Festival and other classic works such as Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” “Pride and Prejudice” to musicals such as “Sweeney Todd” and “Mamma Mia!” He has performed in “Gutenberg! The Musical” at Milwaukee Repertory Theater and in “The Merchant of Venice” and “Fair Maid of the West” with Riverside Theater.
Maggie Kettering makes her Peninsula Players Theatre directorial debut. Audiences will recall her performance as Dr. Watson in the theater’s 2018 production of “Miss Holmes” and her performances in “Outside Mullingar” and “Lend Me a Tenor.” She directed “Educating Rita” and “The Thanksgiving Play,” both at Lean Ensemble. Her performance credits include “Holmes and Watson” with Milwaukee Repertory Theater and “Sense & Sensibility,” “The 39 Steps” and “Blithe Spirit” at Great Lakes Theater. She earned a Joseph Jefferson nomination for her work in “Season on the Line” at House Theatre.
Kettering is working closely with the cast and design team, including Composer Christopher Kriz, a five-time Joseph Jefferson Award winner. While writing the original music that will underscore “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” Kriz found inspiration in the music of the 1940s Sherlock Holmes films, Hammer Film Productions mystery/horror films of the 1960s and John Morris’s score to “Young Frankenstein.” Kriz continued in that cinematic vein and wrote an orchestral score that creates a palette of mystery and suspense, allowing the action and comedy to flourish. Kriz’sChicago credits include Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Regionally he has worked with Seattle Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and more.
Other members of the “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” creative team include Scenic Designer Eleanor Kahn and Lighting Designer Cat Wilson, who are making their Peninsula Players Theatre debuts. Kahn is an interdisciplinary artist who focuses on scenic and installation design. She served as creative director and designer for an immersive lobby activation at The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance for English National Ballet’s production of “Creature” and a designer for a 2019 installation in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Wilson’s lighting designs have graced the stages of Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, City Theatre, TheatreSquared, Portland Stage Theatre of Maine, TimeLine Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet Academy and many others nationwide.
Costume Designer Kärin Simonson Kopischke rounds out the creative team. Kopischke was recently honored in the Wisconsin Arts Board’s inaugural round of 50 Artists for 50 Years, a celebration of its 50th anniversary highlighting 50 of Wisconsin’s amazing artists and their work in the state. Kopischke’s award-winning designs have appeared in more than 300 productions across the country, including more than 30 world premieres and productions at 13 Tony Award-winning theaters. She has designed costumes for more than 50 productions in her 22 seasons at Peninsula Players Theatre. She has received the Joseph Jefferson Award, AriZoni Award and a Prague Quadrennial nomination for her costume designs.
Mother Nature is the theater’s outdoor lobby, so for pre-show and intermission activities, patrons should dress for the weather and be prepared for shifting temperatures and breezes off the bay. Peninsula Players Theatre is a smoke-free campus. Smoking is prohibited on the grounds at all times. Audience members are encouraged to arrive early for a pre-show beverage or snack at the Luna Bar and Canteen. The grounds open 90 minutes before the show. Student and group tickets are available.
“Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” performs Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:00 p.m., except for Sunday, October 1 and 15 at 2:00 p.m. The theater and its offices are closed on Mondays. To purchase tickets, phone the Box Office between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (920) 868-3287, stop by 90 minutes before the performance or visit www.peninsulaplayers.com.