Aaron Holbritter isn’t worried about the number of Sherlock Holmes fans out there in community theater circles.
He’s convinced that even general theater patrons — those who aren’t necessarily champions of Victorian England’s master sleuth — will make their way to the Schenectady Civic Playhouse over the next two weeks to see “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” a 2007 work by award-winning playwright Steven Dietz.
“It’s a great story, and yeah, we have a really good cast,” said Holbritter, who is directing the show. “We had an amazing turnout at auditions, and I thought to myself, ‘This is a great cast.’ Our group is a little bit younger, but Sherlock’s age and Watson’s is always open to interpretation, so we went with a younger, and dare I say, sexier cast.”
Tom Templeton plays Holmes, while the other principals are Ian LaChance as Dr. Watson, Erin Waterhouse as Irene Adler and Isaac Newberry as Professor Moriarty. LaChance, Waterhouse and Newberry are three of the busiest actors on Capital Region stages these days, and while Templeton’s name may not be as familiar as his co-stars, his limited resume includes some fine work.
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 S. Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Sunday, Feb. 2. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays
HOW MUCH: $17
MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.civicplayers.org
“Tom has the unique ability to play smart very well,” said Holbritter, who also directed Templeton in the 2012 Albany Civic Theater production of “The Farnsworth Invention.” “Obviously that lends itself very well to this particular role, but he also has the ability to make smart and clever very appealing.”
A Shenendehowa High School graduate, Templeton says he started performing back at Gowana Middle School. While he loves the theater, he is also a musician/songwriter who has pursued a career in social work after getting his undergraduate degree from Siena College and his master’s from The College of Saint Rose.
“The theater was always a hobby for me, and there was a point where I decided I just wanted to keep it that way,” said Templeton. “I thought about maybe doing a bit more, and possibly going down to New York City and finding more regional work, but I guess I never found the opportunity. While I was in college, I was more into playing the guitar, and I really didn’t get back into the theater until ‘Farnsworth.’ ”
“The Farnsworth Invention,” which earned universal praise from area reviewers, was directed by Holbritter in May 2012 and also starred Newberry. In September 2012, Holbritter, Templeton and LaChance joined forces for a production of “The Shape of Things to Come,” another big success at Albany Civic Theater.
“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” includes two characters, Adler, an opera singer, and Professor Moriarty, a Holmes villain, from previous stories authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Holmes back in 1887.
“I knew the play was recent, and I know it’s kind of a mixture of two different Sherlock stories,” said Templeton. “I have always loved Sherlock Holmes, and most of what I’ve done recently in theater has been with Aaron, so I jumped at the opportunity. If he’s involved in some project it always turns out great.”
While Templeton has shared the stage with LaChance and Newberry in the past, this is his first time working with Waterhouse, who is performing in her sixth show since March 2012.
“I’ve seen some of the stuff that Erin has done, and it’s a privilege to work on this play with her,” said Templeton. “I’ve also worked before with Ian and Isaac, so that’s about as good as you can get in this area. I really do like our cast.”
When he first heard Holbritter was directing the play, Templeton didn’t automatically think he would read for Holmes.
“I kind of thought of myself more along the lines of Watson, but when I really started reading the script, the more I became interested in the Holmes part,” said Templeton, who lives in Delmar. “Once we got into rehearsals and got off book, it’s been fun exploring the character. I love all the recent variations of Holmes — Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Downey Jr. — and I also am big fans of the early guys, like Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett. I’ll try to draw a little bit from each one of those guys, make him a little bit quirky but also make the character my own, as well.”
“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play. Dietz had earlier adapted Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” for the stage as well as P.G. Wodehouse’s “Over the Moon.”
A drama professor at the University of Texas, Dietz is one of America’s most widely produced and published contemporary playwrights, authoring more than 30 plays since 1983 that have been performed at more than 100 regional theaters around the U.S.
“This relatively new adaptation seems to focus on the fun, more adventurous aspects of Sherlock Holmes,” said Holbritter. “Dietz has wonderfully woven these two different Sherlock stories together. It’s a well-written play, and it’s been very successful at the regional level.”
Also in the cast are David Cerutti as the King of Bohemia, Chris Guyon as Sid Prince, Marc Destefano as James Larrabee and Amy M. Lane as Madge Larrabee.
Holbritter, a Pittstown native who went to Hoosic Valley High School, has spent much of the past decade directing shows on area stages. He is also a talented actor, however, and spent the summer of 2013 playing Victor Fleming in the Lake George Dinner Theatre production of “Moonlight and Magnolias,” the story of the making of “Gone with the Wind.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]