Lafayette Theatre Company performs ‘Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville’
Published 6:22 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019
Laughter, intrigue and a mystery fit for the greatest detective of all time filled the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts on Thursday during the opening performance of “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.”
The play blends the mystery and comedy in the classic story of Holmes and Watson searching for a killer in Victorian England, while the play’s cast of five performs more than 40 roles.
“This is loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ with Sherlock Holmes,” Director Jeff Sargent said. “We do have a Sherlock Holmes, and we have a Watson, and there are 43 other characters played by three actors. Therefore, it is obvious that it is a farce.”
The wide range of characters played by just three actors means quick changes in accents, appearances and mannerisms, sometimes without leaving the stage.
“I think I play 11 different characters, so between myself, Josh McWhorter and Mark Brown, we play about 36 different characters,” Valerie Longshore-Sargent said. “We stay pretty busy.”
Those quick changes lend an easy comedy to the play’s thrilling mystery.
“There have been probably 50 or more adaptations of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles,’ but in this one it is so light and so fun that you are able to enjoy the mystery, but be laughing at the same time,” said Jack Morman, who plays Sherlock Holmes.
On stage, laughter is often not an option.
“It is a challenge just to keep a straight face,” said Shawn Morvay, who plays Watson. “It’s a really fun comedy, but it stays true to the original Baskerville mystery, which is kind of cool how [Ludwig] was able to pull that off.”
But pulling off the performance has meant that the cast can’t shy away from the characters they play, as emotions run high on the moors of Devonshire and in Baskerville Hall.
“You can’t be shy with this show,” Longshore-Sargent said. “Especially with the auxiliary characters, they are so big, and they are so different that you really have to put yourself out there. You really have to go for it. You can’t be timid at all.”
The larger than life characters are played by a group of performers that will be familiar to the Lafayette Theatre Company’s performances, but the cast members aren’t the only ones working overtime in “Baskerville.” The stage crew is especially visible in the play due to the 30 scene changes during the show.
“This play is actually very different because the crew is … a front and center integral part,” Morvay said. “Usually, they try to fade into the backdrop, and in this one, they are out front. So, that has been a lot of fun because that is unique to this show for me.”
The actors said they believe the quick changes made possible by the versatile actors and stage crew will be some of the highlights of the show for those watching the show.
“[The audience will enjoy] the fast-paced comedy,” Morvay said. “They will get a kick out of that. They are going to get a kick out of the instant transformation of a person from one character to another. Many times, it happens on stage in front of you. The accent spins 180 right in the middle of a sentence. They are going to get a kick out of that.”
The show is considered family friendly, but older children may appreciate the rapid developments more than younger siblings.
“It is very family friendly,” Longshore-Sargent said. “Older audiences will appreciate the classic, and younger audiences will find a new respect for something that is  years old. It really does have a mass appeal to it.”
The LTC will perform “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville” in the LSPA Black Box Theatre on Jan. 25, Jan. 26, Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. There will also be a matinee performance on Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. This is a picnic friendly event. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Lsparts.org or call (706) 882-9909.