On November 6th and 7th, the Belmont Hill and Winsor Middle School theater programs kicked off their seasons with performances of the much-anticipated “The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Comic Thriller Starring Shirley Holmes and Jennie Watson”. Mr. DiResta and Ms. Zener helmed the project, using their expertise and experience in directing to bring one of the most famous and popular Sherlock Holmes stories to light.
Though they chose to retain many of the literary elements that make the piece a traditional Holmes-esque narrative, this theatrical adaptation puts a comedic spin on the renowned thriller. The setting? Late nineteenth-century London, as Sherlock and and his faithful sidekick Dr. John Watson depart on a tour of Europe, leaving their nieces, Shirley Holmes and Jennie Watson, to manage their practice in London. With their uncles away, Shirley and Jennie are tasked with investigating the mysterious legend of the Hound of the Baskervilles, a supernatural bloodhound that allegedly haunts the English town of Devonshire, when Sir Henry Baskerville and his associate, Dr. Maxine Mortimer, approach them to request their aid. As the investigation unfurls, Sir Henry finds himself as the target of a serious threat when he arrives from America to collect the inheritance his uncle Sir Charles left him after mysteriously passing away.
Winsor students Margaret Eng and Alex Gorham played the Shirley and Jennie, respectively, each being excited and nervous to play a lead role. Other Winsor cast members included Isabel Sibble as Mrs. Stapleton, Dora Friedman as Mrs. Barrymore, Caroline Nolan as Mrs. Lestrade, and Lucy Binder as Dr. Maxine Mortimer. Belmont Hill boys in the production included Julian Wambach as Sir Henry Baskerville, Jack Henehan as Charles Baskerville, and Josh Fairman as Mr. Stapleton.
The show was full of laughs, shocks, and plot twists. The audience was constantly at the edge of their seats, not knowing what would come next in a performance imbued with sparkle and flash. The production fulfilled its ambition as a play filled with comedy and thrill, all the while providing a unique opportunity for girls to have a presence in such a renowned but originally male-oriented work of drama.