Sherlock Holmes at Solanco Nov. 20, 21 and 22

| October 31, 2014

High School - Fall play aWEB

The popular and entertaining play Sherlock Holmes will come to life on the Solanco High School stage, and the entire Solanco community is invited to enjoy the outstanding performances to be provided by Solanco’s talented student actors and actresses.

The first performance, on Thursday, November 20 at 12:30 p.m., is a free matinee performance for senior citizens. The two-hour play will feature an intermission with refreshments in the high school cafeteria. Local seniors interested in attending are asked to RSVP by calling Solanco Community Relations Director Keith Kaufman at 786-5617.

Public performances of Sherlock Holmes will be held on Thursday and Friday, November 20 and 21 at 7 p.m., and again at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 22. Admission is $5 for students and $7 for adults and senior citizens.

In the photo are Gloria Steinhauer as Alice Faulkner and AJ Beyer as Sherlock Holmes.

Students in high school teacher Erica Long’s journalism class have researched the play, interviewed actors, actresses and play director Gregory Lyon, and have written the following information about Solanco’s upcoming performances of Sherlock Holmes.

The play Sherlock Holmes, written by Tim Kelly, features the beloved character of Sherlock Holmes, a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Solanco’s performances are being directed by high school English teachers Gregory Lyon and Amber Friel. Holmes, famous for his logical reasoning and ability to adopt almost any disguise, along with his assistant Dr. Watson, will battle against the sinister Professor Moriarty.

Holmes and Watson – the two leading roles – are being played by sophomore AJ Beyer (photo) and junior Gavin Fox. Their roles represent an intermingling of logic and emotion. “These two are beginning to flow and play off one another nicely,” Lyon said.

AJ Beyer, who will play Holmes, is no stranger to the stage. In last year’s fall play, The Diary of Anne Frank, he portrayed Peter VanDann. Beyer has also performed outside of school at Kabad Community Theater with roles in The Music Man and The Wizard of Oz. His most recent show, Anything Goes, was at Lancaster’s Popovsky Theatre. Beyer is the vice president of drama club at Solanco High School and currently works at the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm as an entertainer.

Despite his varied background, Holmes is his first lead. “I want to learn something from this… take some of Sherlock’s brilliance with me,” Beyer said. He enjoys Holmes for many different reasons but the main one is that he has a distinct personality and doesn’t try to please anyone else.

In addition to his character, Beyer also appreciates the people he is working with. “It’s a very skilled cast. The cast members want to be there.”  He recognizes the importance of having everyone “all in” and says that it makes acting together more enjoyable.

He also feels the weight of responsibility that comes with being cast as Holmes. The most difficult part, Beyer said, is “conquering the role of Sherlock…a sense of responsibility and people looking toward you.” Beyer looks forward to performing for large audiences, “I hope we can fill the seats,” he said.

Fall Play - Gavin Fox
Alongside Holmes will be his trusty friend and assistant, Dr. Watson, played by Gavin Fox (photo). “Watson was different from other acting roles,” Fox said. Watson is a character that is very smart and funny, but underappreciated “like me,” Fox suggested with a laugh. This will be Fox’s first on-stage performances. Previously, he contributed to the theatre program as a sound director for the school musicals and last year’s fall play.

Despite first-performance butterflies, Fox also said that being in a play helps to release nerves and to build self-esteem. “Get rid of the thoughts that you’ll embarrass yourself,” he stated. “It takes a lot of mental preparation to stay in character.”

Alan Stanley and Katie Hammond, two Solanco High School seniors, will play the villainous couple: James and Madge Larrabee.

Fall Play - Alan Stanley
Stanley (photo) describes his character Larrabee as one Professor Moriarty’s henchman, saying, “Larrabee is evil, oblivious, and rude.” He said that’s part of the fun. “I don’t share anything in common. I can be someone I’m not for a little bit.” Stanley got involved with acting a few years ago and has been in four productions since then. “Acting is important because it’s a form of entertainment and it’s a skill.” To prepare for his role as Larrabee, Stanley rehearses two or more times a week, and practices the accent that goes along with his character. Stanley plans to continue his acting career and will audition for a role in the spring musical.
Fall Play - Katie Hammond
Katie Hammond (photo) describes her character, the wife of James Larrabee, “Madge is a classic villain. She’s driven by her love of money and is not the smartest fish in the pond” Hammond said. Hammond’s two sisters are professional actresses. She has been in three previous productions and is excited to be playing the role of Madge Larrabee in this production. “Acting is important because it’s a good exercise in learning to think like other people, to boost self-confidence and public speaking skill.” As well as reading through her script and the stage directions, she researched the attitude of the women in that time period.

Junior Gloria Steinhauer, who is playing Alice Faulkner, says Faulkner is a very independent person, comical and sarcastic as times. Originally Alice Faulkner wants nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes because of her strong sense of independence. However, she soon gives in to his charming personality and falls in love with him against her will.

According to play director Gregory Lyon, “I am impressed with the interpretation of the damsel in distress matched with a woman of power and determination. She owns her character well, playing off Holmes in a type of intricate dance.”

Fall Play - Ian Birdwell
Ian Birdwell (photo), who has participated in two plays and two musicals at Solanco High School, will portray Professor Moriarty. Birdwell describes his character, Professor Moriarty, as intelligent but also somewhat of a sociopath. Moriarty is all about power and riches but he can also be a gentleman at the same time, although he is sometimes very pompous.

Regarding Birdwell’s portrayal of Moriarty, Lyon said, “The evil genius motif is coming through. Ian is working on the controlled power and presence of the character.”

As the final details come together, including costumes by Mrs. Leslie McRobbie and the set by Mr. Rob Lockhart, the play will truly come to life with each individual actor’s perception and personality. Lyon had this assessment: “The cast is capturing my idea of the characters.  There is much work to be done but much has been accomplished.  This is a hardworking group, and I am very pleased with the progress so far.”

Category: Community Happenings, Featured Stories, High School News

About the Author ()

Keith Kaufman is the Director of Community Relations for Solanco School District. 786-5617.

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