There is a master class in hilarity, invention, and pure joy going on at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College  right now, and it is called Ken Ludwig's Baskerville. The show is a tour-de-force of farce, satire, homage, performed with an intense amount of ability and talent by both cast and crew, with a team of designers and direction as brilliant as Sherlock Holmes himself.

The play is a comedy in the vein of The 39 Steps, with five actors portraying around 40 roles and giving a comedic version of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Hound of the Baskervilles. The action of the play takes us all over both London, Devonshire and the Moors, with what feels like more scenes than some films. The tone is definitely madcap- a joyous insouciance that makes you happy to be alive, and like you are part of something unique as you watch it. The plot stays true to the original source, and I am fairly certain that Holmes's purists will enjoy it. I know my wife, who has read all of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories several times over, loved the show just as much as I did.

The cast, to a one, is superb. As Sherlock Holmes, Christopher Joel Onken is outstanding. Onken captures the character perfectly, showcasing both the ridiculousness and charisma that makes Holmes Holmes. As the trusted sidekick Doctor Watson, Colin Alexander is outstanding. Together, they are the straight men to a cavalcade of characters, played with inspiration and gleeful madness by Andrew Wilkes, Jordan Mathews, and Rebecca Myers. These three actors play about ten characters a pieced, sometimes changing character in a matter of seconds. They are each formidable talents, who I suspect must secretly be magicians of some sort to be able to pull off all the tricks they do.

The production is directed by the great Nathan Halvorson, who knows how to do comedy, farce, and pretty much any style of theatre there is, about as good as anyone I know of. The action is blindingly fast, always creative, and a marvel to behold. The set, by Erick D. Diaz, is brilliant- evocative of so many familiar places- Holme's study, the Moors, the typical English Manor, etc. And yet, within all these locations, there are surprise elements, clever use of minimal pieces, and again a sense of joy and wonder, you see each setting with new eyes. Same can be said for the lush lighting by Jennifer Reiser, which is scary when it needs to be scary, warm when it needs to be warm, and always supporting the mood and action of the moment. The many props, which at times literally fly across the stage, are by Emma Dean, and are wonderful. The costumes, designed by Noelle Raffy, are gorgeous and perfect. Hair and make-up by Jonathan Eberhardt, which must be insane to do when you have three actors playing over 35 roles, is brilliant. Quick changes abound in this show, and to a one, each was done perfectly, thanks to the outstanding costumes and hair and make-up designs.

As you may have noticed, I think this show was fantastic. Performances continue through October 29. Don't be a fool- get your tickets and go. You won't be sorry!

For more information of the show, click HERE.


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