All For One Productions takes a fresh look at Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective with “Sherlock Holmes and the First Baker Street Irregular,” which opens tonight.
The play by Brian Guehring is only a few years old. Artistic director Lauren Nichols calls it a “wholesome adaptation” of Holmes, with a great deal of attention on the head of the Baker Street Irregulars instead of the more troubled nuances of Holmes' character.
Wiggins is a new character who becomes the first of Holmes' “Irregulars,” a network of street urchins that gather information for the detective. The teenage Wiggins is almost as astute as the famed detective and is eager to learn from him.
“We're always looking for plays that will be unfamiliar to Fort Wayne audiences but at the same time will have an element or a title that will register with strong name recognition,” Nichols says, admitting it is a tricky combination. She knew she had a winner with this production when she mentioned Holmes to people and their eyes started to light up.
The atmosphere of London and Holmes' relationships with well-known characters such as Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson are all a part of the play, which includes the stories of “The Blue Carbuncle” and “The Red-Headed League.” Holmes fans will recognize the stories, but the play is an all-ages show with elements geared to a younger audience.
“I love the idea that we're introducing children and their whole families to a classic literary figure,” Nichols says. The show has a lot of humor and is on the shorter side, running 75 minutes with no intermission.
All For One found a way to do some good with the show, too.
A scene in the play calls for the youth actors playing the street urchins to pretend to panhandle in the audience. But Nichols decided to take that to the next level by having them actually collect donations for Vincent Village Inc., which provides services for local homeless families. There will also be a collection box in the lobby.
If you go
What: “Sherlock Holmes and the First Baker Street Irregular”
When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday and Sept. 27 and 28; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Sept. 29
Where: ArtsLab, 300 E. Main St.
Admission: $20 adults, $17 ages 60 and older, $11 students; Arts United Box Office, 422-4226 or tickets.artstix.org