Sherlock Holmes was supposed to die in 1891, when grappling with his arch-nemesis Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls in the Swiss Alps. They both fell to their deaths, or at least that was the apparent end of the great detective.
The English reading public would have none of it. So eight years later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle returned to writing his Sherlock Holmes stories, through the voice of the narrator Dr. John Watson, with "The Hound of the Baskervilles."
Now Sherlock Holmes shows on stage in starting Friday at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center for a two-week run. The pipe-smoking, cerebral investigator Sherlock Holmes is portrayed by Steven David Martin, while Steve Thorpe fills the role of Dr. Watson in this production, directed by Jim de Priest.
"Hound" may be one of the most popular of all the Sherlock Holmes stories and cases, inspiring five movie versions between 1921 and the most popular, the definitive 1939 version with Basil Rathbone.
Sherlock Holmes has been enjoying yet another revival in recent years, showing it's hard to keep a good detective down. Aside from the two recent Robert Downey Jr. movies, co-starring Jude Law as Watson, a BBC series has run two seasons with Benedict Cumberbatch as the redoubtable Holmes and Martin Freeman as the loyal Watson. The two stars find their careers on the rise: Cumberbatch is the villain in the upcoming "Star Trek" film, and Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in the on-going "The Hobbit" trilogy.
There's also the current CBS-TV show "Elementary," with Johnny Lee Miller as Homes and Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson. Both the BBC and CBS series are set in modern times, not Victorian England.
But "The Hound of the Baskervilles," as staged by the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, is set in the period, according to the director. "The set is the inside of the Baskerville Castle, 1898," said Priest. "Our set designer Yava Guzman did a wonderful job. The whole cast is good!"
The Cloverdale Performing Arts production takes the stage Friday & Saturday nights this weekend and next, February 22, 23, March 1, 2 at 8 p.m. There are also Sunday matinees, Feb. 24 and March 3 , at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18, available through Vivendi on this page.
The play was written by Tim Kelly, from the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is sponsored by Hale and Janice Allen of Allen Ranch.
"Hound of the Baskervilles" is the first of five plays in the third season of the Cloverdale Performing Arts Theater series. Upcoming are "Dead Man's Cell Phone" in April, "The Night of the Iguana" in June, "Blithe Spirit" in August and "Terra Nova" in October. Season ticket packages are also available.