Posts Tagged Sam Diekman

Sneak a Peek Backstage!

With more than 50 scene shifts and countless fast-paced costume changes, Baskerville is a play on the move. Yet for all its vibrant set pieces and stylish getups, the audience only ever sees a percentage of the stage. What goes on behind the curtain? Stage manager Laura Topham and assistant stage manager Sam Diekman took us on a tour to explain the whirlwind process that makes a show like this all possible.

Image of Stage Manager Laura Topham

Stage Manager Laura Topham

“The stage manager is the only person who sees the show truly from start to finish – through its whole evolution,” Topham explains, “from the first production meeting to closing.” They’re the ones responsible for making the magic happen: for facilitating and maintaining the directors’ vision.

Image of Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Diekman

Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Diekman

That all-encompassing vision and dedication is invaluable, as every night, it’s the stage crew responsible for the show going off without a hitch. “If everyone else can do their job well,” Diekman says, “then I’ve done my job well.”

Baskerville in particular – with its rapid-fire comedy and breakneck pace – was a challenge. Among the moody shadows behind the stage is a maze of sets – so many that they can’t all be stored in the backstage area at once. Instead, the crew must swap out the set pieces between acts, meaning that more than many shows, the crew is working nonstop. They’re constantly moving behind the scenes, planning – and adapting – to best support the actors. But it was a challenge the team rose to immediately. The crew knew things would go wrong – and that they’d have each others’ backs when they did.

“Just having that attitude and that dedication across the board is what makes it worth it to me,” Diekman says. “If we’re not loving it and we’re not having fun, no matter how hard it is, why are we doing it?”

And seeing the show night after night (more than 25 times, according to Topham) is its own reward. “There are spots where I laugh every single night.” And with such a fun team to work with, it’s just elementary: Baskerville is an adventure both onstage and off.

Tickets still available for the final weekend.  Purchase them HERE. 

Want more? Watch the video tour: Backstage with Baskerville.

Tara Henderson is a marketing intern with Park Square Theatre and is currently studying at the University of Minnesota.

A female duo of Holmes and Watson are on the case!

The premiere of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville is witty and fast-paced – with women playing the famous sleuthing duo! Park Square Theatre cherishes its summertime tradition of cozying up audiences with a good mystery. This year’s edition for the company’s 43rd season – Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: a Sherlock Holmes Mystery – offers a fresh take for Holmes devotees AND a special invitation for those who’ve never spent an evening with the iconic sleuth. McKenna Kelly-Eiding (closing a spectacular run in The Wolves at The Jungle) stars as Sherlock Holmes and Sara Richardson* (last seen at Park Square in The Liar) as Dr. Watson. The remaining 40 characters in this smart send-up of The Hound of the Baskervilles are played by just three actors: Eric “Pogi” Sumangil*; Ricardo Beaird; and Marika Proctor*. Cue the lightning-fast costume changes as wealthy Henry Baskerville is threatened by the fable of a bloodthirsty hound on the moors and the dynamic duo sniff out the culprit.

From Left: Sara Richardson (Dr. Watson) and McKenna Kelly-Eiding (Sherlock Holmes).

Women have been winning over Holmes fans in recent years, from Lucy Liu as Watson in the CBS series Elementary, to Christopher Walsh’s new play Miss Holmes, to Carole Nelson Douglas’ eight acclaimed Irene Adler suspense novels – the first to reinvent a woman from the Holmes “canon” as the protagonist. Director Theo Langason, in his Park Square directing debut, admits that “some Sherlockians will be skeptical of a woman in the role. But, all the things we love about the character – intuition, ingenuity, intelligence – aren’t tied to gender. And when I saw McKenna’s audition, her performance was so grounded – which this script needs since the other actors jump from character to character.”

In many ways, Watson takes center stage as the cataloger and helpmate. Like the character of Archie Goodwin in the two Nero Wolfe mysteries Park Square has commissioned, Watson serves as the “investigator on the ground” while the great detective muses in solitude. “Sara Richardson is so wonderful,” says Langason, “and I’m glad we get to spend so much time with her as Watson in this play.”

Langason relishes the challenges of tweaking audience expectations while staying true to the core of the Holmes story that keeps winning fans generation after generation. “Sherlock is a fascinating character,” he says. “He deserves a role in the pantheon of super heroes. I mean, without Sherlock Holmes, is it possible to have Batman? This show clips along with a very atmospheric, cinematic quality that I think will be really satisfying to both the artists and the audience. Peter Morrow (the sound designer) and I are working hard on where the sound comes from in the auditorium, trying to achieve the sensation you get in a surround-sound movie theatre. I want those ‘howls off the moors’ to give us all the heebee jeebees!”

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The creative team for the production includes Ashawnti Ford (Assistant Director), Eli Sherlock Schlatter (Set Designer), Mandi Johnson (Costume Designer), Peter Morrow (Sound Designer), Michael Kittel (Light Designer), Sadie Ward, Properties Designer, Annie Enneking (Fight Choreographer), and Keely Wolter (Dialect Coach). Laura Topham* will serve as Stage Manager and Sam Diekman* is the Assistant Stage Manager.

Previews begin Friday, June 15, and continue through Thursday, June 20. June 21 is Opening Night, and the run continues through August 5. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Saturday and Sunday matinees, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are on the company’s Proscenium Stage in Saint Paul’s historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.

Ticket prices: Previews: $20/$27/$37. Regular Run: $25/$40/$60. Discounts are available for seniors 62+, members of the military, those age 30 and under, groups, and ASL/AD patrons. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square ticket box office, 20 W. Seventh Place, and by phone, 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.

*Member, Actors Equity Association

Photo by Petronella J Ytsma.