Posts Tagged Sherlock Holmes

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.

Marika Proctor: the Pride of Saint Paul

McKenna Kelly-Eiding, Marika Proctor, and Ricardo Beaird. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

While this may be her first foray on the Park Square stage, Marika Proctor is no stranger to the Saint Paul playhouse, having been born and raised in the capital. Like so many actors, however, she’s experienced her fair share of travels – attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and more recently, the professional actor training program at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky, home to the world-renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays, where she was featured in the play, You Across From Me.

This summer, however, Proctor returns to Minnesota and is excited to share the wild adventure of Baskerville with her home audiences. As for what they come away with Proctor says, ” I hope they feel they’ve had an excellent night of theater — imaginative and creative and satisfying.”

Those three words encapsulate the Ken Ludwig play, first performed in 2015, but making it’s Minnesota premiere at Park Square. For her part, Proctor is one of three actors tasked with the feat of portraying close to forty different characters! She is thrilled by how the play relishes the sense of fun and mystery.

I’m really excited by the sense of play that Theo’s [Langason, Director] brought to the room—I’ll definitely keep this in mind as I figure out how to jump from character to character to character.

Marika Proctor

It’s that sense of play and challenge that Proctor brings to all of her roles. Past Twin Cities’ credits include One Man, Two Guvnors at Yellow Tree Theatre where Lavender Magazine said, “Marika Proctor teases and delights in a crossgender turn.” She has worked with Savage Umbrella and several shows with Classical Actors Ensemble, including the direction of a Comedy of Errors that garnered positive reviews from the Star Tribune and City Pages.

With such a rich and varied background in the theatre, what else could Proctor possibly do to fill her time? She says she writes part time for a consulting firm specializing in archaeology, cultural planning and exhibit development for museums and national parks. If variety is the spice of life, then Proctor is doing something right!

You can come along for the ride too when you see her in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at Park Square this summer! The show runs now until August 5, so don’t wait!

McKenna Kelly-Eiding, Marika Proctor. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

New Video: The Women of BASKERVILLE

New Video: The Women of BASKERVILLE

Women have been winning over Holmes fans in recent years, and in our current production Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Park Square is continuing the conversation with women playing both Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.

Here is a sneak peak of this perfectly contrasting pair. As Lisa Brock in the Star Tribune writes, “McKenna kelly -Eiding perfectly embodies Holmes’ authoritative manner and sly condescension while Sara Richardson, one of the Twin Cities’ finest clowns, delivers a delightfully wide-eyed Dr. Watson.” Director Theo Langason shares what changes it took (or didn’t) to adapt the play for these two fine actors!

The game is afoot, hilariously! Get your tickets now to see these two in action for yourself!

Tickets and Information Here.

Pogi’s Back – in Baskerville!

Park Square favorite Eric “Pogi” Sumangil returns to the Proscenium Stage in Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, playing both Inspector Lestrade and Sir Henry Baskerville, among many roles. He caught up with blogger Vincent Hannam to share what excites him about this play and working in Twin Cities theatre.

Eric "Pogi" Sumangil

Eric “Pogi” Sumangil

What was your path to the Twin Cities and Park Square?
I was born and raised in Minneapolis. I had some aspirations to go to college somewhere out of state, but ultimately decided to go to St. John’s University in central Minnesota. My freshman year, I wrote the annual comedy sketch at the Asian New Year celebration. Rick Shiomi, then Artistic Director of Theater Mu, performed at the same event with his Taiko group, and approached me afterward. I started taking workshops at Mu in Minneapolis over summer break and I stayed in touch until I graduated. I began auditioning around the Twin Cities, but for over a decade, getting cast in a show at Park Square eluded me. Suddenly, in 2016, I was cast in The Realistic Joneses, Flower Drum Song, and Macbeth in the same season.
What other work do you do around town?
I am a playwright and teaching artist, I also have done some event planning, marketing and social media, and administrative work, most recently for the Minnesota Theater Alliance. Otherwise, I work for a couple of food trucks around town as well: Bombon, and Fun Fare.

Sara Richardson, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, and McKenna Kelly-Eiding. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

This isn’t your first show at Park Square, so what keeps you coming back? What excites you most about this show?
Park Square is one of the few places in the Twin Cities that features performers of color in non-traditionally cast roles with relative consistency. It’s an opportunity for me to perform roles for which I might not be considered at many other theaters. While I believe that the theater work that is centered around identity is important, I also believe that as someone from a community of color that is often assumed to be foreign, it’s important for me as an actor to be seen in roles that don’t specifically address my ethnic origins.

This show is a classic story with a contemporary feel. It has an American sensibility to the humor, and the challenge of playing so many characters is going to be a lot of fun. I’m also excited to work with a female Holmes & Watson because they’ll both bring great things to those roles.

Ricardo Beaird, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, Sara Richardson. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

What do you hope people come away with after watching it?
Accessibility, and relatability. The film & TV world is now trending toward rebooting past shows and movies, but that’s nothing new in the Theater business; there are adaptations all over the place with a new take or different spin on familiar stories. I’m hoping that people come away with a renewed interest in something that they may have dismissed as being old and irrelevant.

Beat the heat this summer and see Pogi in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, playing until August 5. Tickets can be found here!

Baskerville graphic - red text on white background

AAROOOOO–The Dogs of Baskerville!

Mavis the golden-doodle

Imagine pouncing straight at you–out of the dark, murky moors–a monstrous, demonic dog from legend known as the Baskerville hound, described as “a creature from a nightmare, with blazing eyes and dripping jaws” in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Baskerville–the very word elicits a spine-tingling shudder of terror, an urgent need to scream and, at Park Square Theatre from June 15 to August 5, an irrepressible desire to laugh.

Mavis and Keely Wolter

In the spirit of our very fun production of this classic Sherlock Holmes whodunnit, members of the cast, creative team and production department shared photos of their own hair-raising Baskerville dogs:

Beware of Mavis the four-year-old golden-doodle, who’s biggest threats, according to Dialect Coach Keely Wolter, are to sleep directly on top of her legs at night and attack unattended bowls of popcorn (her favorite).

Lilly and Laura Topham

If you’re not already scared silly, meet two-year-old Lilly. A German shepherd/Australian cattle dog mix rescued by Stage Manager Laura Topham, Lilly once scaled a five-feet-high chain link fence in hot pursuit of a rabbit.

Jasmine the boxer mix

Then there’s Jasmine, actor Marika Proctor’s “90% pitbull sweetness,” listed as a boxer mix at the Animal Humane Society. Doesn’t she look eager to–horror of horrors– lick your face?!?!

Actor Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, not a dog-owner himself, is an uncle to his sister’s pugs, Rupert and Lola. Rupert has since passed away but shared with Pogi the Instagram hashtag #Pugsimangot, which is a play on the Filipino word pagsimangot, meaning to frown or look grumpy. He was a bit deaf, very lazy and so mysteriously quiet.

Rupert and Eric “Pogi” Sumangil

Now it’s just Pogi and Lola mugging together. Unlike Rupert, she’s more active and mischievous, hopping up on chairs and eventually the table if no one’s looking, plus getting into things that she knows not to. Oh, and she’s stubborn to boot!

Lola the pug

Last but not least, is the most terrifying of all: honorary dog Ned, who may very well want to scratch my eyes out for deeming him as such. Proud black cat dad, Eli Sherlock (formerly Schlatter), Baskerville’s set designer, may also get slightly scratched up for describing Ned as a “weird and photogenic” cat of no specific breed that was initially found in a train yard and adopted by folks on the Barnum and Bailey circus tour; hence, earning Ned the affectionate moniker “Ned the Circus Cat.”

Ned the Circus Cat

What is the Baskerville hound? Is it even a dog? Is it even real? Or may it merely exist as a part of ourselves, as Holmes himself surmised (“The hound, he said, was deep in all of us, the part of our souls that is dark and troubling . . . .”)?

Presume nothing when you come to see Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville. Sit back and enjoy as you follow the scent with Holmes and Watson. You’re in for a doggone good time! Tickets and information here.

-By Ting Ting Cheng

 

 

 

The Game’s Afoot with McKenna Kelly-Eiding!

When you take your seats at Park Square this summer, prepare to be delighted to a new mystery featuring the one and only Sherlock Holmes. Be sure to expect the unexpected, however, as this isn’t just any Holmes but one brought hilariously to life by local actor, McKenna Kelly-Eiding, as she uncovers the mystery on the moors with her trusty friend, Watson (Sara Richardson). Along the way, they will encounter dozens of allies and enemies in a madcap romp of adventure, suspense and humor!

Leading the pack, of course, is Kelly-Eiding who is making her Park Square Theatre debut with Baskerville. While originally from warm Los Angeles, her roots run cold as her parents met in Minneapolis and she grew up to attend the University of Minnesota/Guthrie BFA program, where she graduated in 2013. In fact, her parents are theatre vets themselves, having worked at such theaters as Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Brave New Workshop and Theatre in the Round (where they happened to meet!).

As for Kelly-Eiding, she was just seen in the very successful production of The Wolves over at the Jungle Theater. When not performing on local stages, she can be find making ends meet with a variety of different jobs. Now, however, the games afoot with Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville, which fell onto her plate after auditioning and speaking with director, Theo Langason.

So what is it like playing the world’s most famous detective? Kelly-Eiding states:

Sherlock is fascinating to me- I remember first being introduced to the genre through ‘The Great Mouse Detective’. I also love the Benedict Cumberbatch series. Ken Ludwig compares Sherlock and Watson to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza which I love- their relationship is one of my favorite elements of the entire mythology. The way they balance and challenge and learn from each other is really inspiring and often so, so funny.

That humor, ultimately, is what she wishes audiences go home with. Inspiring others to laugh is one of her favorite parts of being an actor, as well as sharing the joyful experience of theatre.

Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery runs June 15 – August 5, closing the 2017-2018 season at Park Square Theatre. You can buy those tickets online here, and considering just how much joy there’s bound to be, I’d recommend doing so sooner than later!

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!”

***

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.