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Communique: Comedy "Baskerville" Features Holmes, Watson, And About 40 More--With Just 5 Actors

Big Dawg Productions
(L-R) J. Robert Raines, Skip Maloney, Atwood Boyd, Tamica Katzmann

Big Dawg Productions presents a comedy that begins on Baker Street: "Baskerville, A Sherlock Holmes Mystery." The plot is very close to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original tale of the Hound of the Baskervilles, but the style is a mix of comedy, melodrama, and mayhem.

Jemila Ericson spoke with director Josh Bailey and actor J. Robert Raines; listen above and find the extended conversation below. Reviews for the show are available from Encore Magazine and Star News

Performances began October 25 and run through November 11 at Cape Fear Playhouse (613 Castle Street). Showtimes are 8:00pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 3:00pm on Sundays. Tickets are available at the theater beginning one hour prior to showtime; reservations can also be made online, by telephone, and by email.

WHQR's Gina Gambony is an actor in this show.

Jemila Ericson: I'm Jemila Ericson sitting in for Gina Gambony today, and I'm bringing you a communique. We'll be talking today with the director and one of the actors from Big Dawg Productions, "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery," a play by Ken Ludwig. So let me introduce to you. First of all, director, Josh Bailey. Hello Josh.

Josh Bailey: Hey Jemila.

Jemila: Great to have you here.

Josh: Thank you.           

Jemila: And also Jay Robert Raines who was playing Dr Watson. Hey Jay.

Jay Robert Raines: Hey, how we doing?

Jemila: Good. Now everybody knows the word Baskerville. I mean there was, of course, the hound of the Baskervilles, one of the most famous stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Is this that story or what is it?

Josh: I think people who are familiar with the hounds of Baskervilles will recognize that this is the same story. Exactly. So the plot is pretty similar and there's some minor changes for comedic effect, but it's the exact same plot.

Jemila: Some minor changes...

Jay: [both laugh] Minor.

Jemila: I wonder because I watched a little bit online from another theater company, the changes didn't look real minor to me.

Josh: Well we don't want to scare people away [laughs].

Jemila: No fear is necessary either before or during the production, right?

Josh: Right, yeah.

Jemila: Okay. So would you describe it as, is it a serious mystery or...

Josh: No, this is a melodramady, it's very melodramatic and comedic, by nature of the fact that there's only six or five actors and three of them play about 40 different characters between them. So there's a lot of shifting and playing around. So it's definitely very funny.

Jemila: So you would say perhaps madcap?

Josh: Yes. Absolutely.

Jemila: Good use for that word. I've been trying to work that into my vocabulary all week long. So Jay, tell me about, I understand in this particular play Baskerville a Sherlock Holmes mystery that Dr Watson is a more central character within Sherlock Holmes. So you're Dr Watson.

Jay: Yes. Dr Watson was almost, you said have a good one the other night, Josh, that it's the window that the audience has into this kind of insanity in the show and that conduit, if you will. So John Watson is more of the straight man than anything else. It's a little bit more apropos for the original story, which is odd because I never ever play straight men. It's bizarre, but it's been a lot of fun to kind of internalize everything going on and then kind of feed it back and into not only homes, but in using that reaction to see how the audience also kind of plays with just understanding what the heck is going on at a million miles an hour around.

Jemila: Do you do some dead pan look so that the contrast between you and the other crazy characters is highlighted?

Jay: Some deadpan, a lot of confusion, tons and tons of confusion.

Jemila: Tell me about Sherlock. What's the character like in this production?

Josh: Well, he's very much the Sherlock that we're familiar with, you know, kind of cat-like reflexes, constantly analyzing things and making Watson's life somewhat more miserable than it probably needs to be.

Jemila: And you have a wonderful actor playing Sherlock.

Josh: Yes. That's Skip Maloney.

Jemila: Good. Good. Now I want you to talk a little bit about the other characters. Well, not the other characters because we don't have time for that. But there are three other actors that play between them, what, 40 roles?

Josh: It's about 40 roles. We've been calling them, lovingly, the clowns. And that's Gina Gambony, Tamica Katzmann, and Atwood Boyd. And they play every character from a random shepherdess to a portrait on the wall to Sir Henry, who's one of the other central characters of the Baskerville story.

Jemila: Wonderful. So all the original characters, like you said, Sir Henry, but lots of these other strange folks coming and going.

Josh: Yeah. And it's interesting how three people can populate a scene and make it feel like there's a town or make it feel like there's a city going on here. And so they're constantly shifting characters and sometimes they're changing a costume, right onset or they're rushing backstage to change very, very quickly and make a new entrance.

Jemila: Yeah, Gina said sometimes she says a line as she's exiting, she throws on some other piece of costume while one line is being said on stage.

Josh: Sometimes it's not even one line.

Jemila: Oh my gosh, let me just ask you in the little bit of time we have left. Do you have on your set the Moore's, the mansion?

Josh: Yeah. So kind of to highlight the fact that it's a very melodramatic comedic show, we've kind of gone for a two dimensional, very artistic representation and so we've got the Moore's, we've got the 221 B Baker Street, we've got the Baskerville Hall and all of those things and they all change as quickly as the actors do.

Jemila: Wonderful. We've been speaking with the director of Josh Bailey and accurate Jay Robert Raines, who plays Dr. Watson. They'd been here talking with us about Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes, mystery, Big Dog Productions opening Thursday, October 25th, running through Sunday, November 11th at the Cape Fear playhouse and Castle Street. You can get more information and tickets at BigDawgProductions.org. Thank you both.

Josh: Thank you so much for having us.

Jay: Thank you.

Jemila has been a lifelong fan of classical music, but she loves many other genres as well. She volunteered for WHQR starting in 1985 when it was at its original location on Greenfield Street. She joined the staff in 1993 and has worked on and off since then. She is also an actress/singer/storyteller, an interfaith minister and an animal communicator.