Walnut Street Theatre (WST) continues its 213th season with a world premiere adaptation of a classic mystery with Sherlock Holmes – The Adventure of The Speckled Band. Written and directed by Walnut favorite Bill Van Horn, the production begins previews February 22, opens March 2, and continues through March 27 on the Walnut’s Mainstage. Read on for more details.
Comedic mystery reigns in this classic Sherlock Holmes’ tale. After her twin sister’s unusual death at the family’s run-down country manor, a young woman is terrified she will be next. To avoid a similar fate – and mystified by her sister’s final words, “It was…the speckled band” – she enlists the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Watson. Six talented actors, playing over 30 quirky characters, take you deep into a world of quick-change disguises and murderous mayhem to unravel The Adventure of The Speckled Band.
The Walnut’s Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard commissioned Bill Van Horn to create this adaption of The Speckled Band, which was originally a 1910 three-act play by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Van Horn is no stranger to writing and adapting for the stage. He has done so for productions in the Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3 and WST for Kids Series, including beloved yearly productions of A Christmas Carol. His credits as director include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Peter and the Starcatcher, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Glass Menagerie.
In addition to leading the cast as director, Van Horn will also take on the role of Holmes’ familiar sidekick, Dr. Watson. Van Horn has previously played the role in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville, A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. His other WST roles include Grimsby in this season’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Sir John Pontefract in A Woman of No Importance. In the role of the titular detective, among other characters, is Ian Merrill Peakes. He is a veteran of the Walnut’s Mainstage with credits including A Woman of No Importance, The Curious Incident…, Matilda, and Of Mice and Men. A proud Philadelphia actor, this will be Peakes’ 134th professional production in his career, during which he has earned multiple awards in Philadelphia and beyond.
Karen Peakes will play several roles, including Enid Stoner, the woman who employs the help of Holmes and Watson to solve the mystery of her sister’s death. Her WST credits include A Woman of No Importance, The Curious Incident…, and A Comedy of Tenors, in addition to work at several other Philadelphia theatres. When not on the stage, she is an Audie Award-nominated audiobook narrator of over 80 titles. Actress Mary Martello returns to the Walnut to also play a variety of characters. Audiences will remember Martello from roles in Walnut shows like Young Frankenstein, Annie, The Humans, and 9 to 5. In her impressive career, she has received many awards and performed at Philadelphia theatres such as 1812 Productions, The Wilma, and The Arden.
Rounding out the cast and playing a handful of characters each are Dan Hodge and Justin Lujan, both last seen at the Walnut in The Curious Incident… Hodge’s theatrical credits also include the one-man show Dogs of Rwanda at Urban Stages and an award-winning turn in Around the World in 80 Days at Delaware Theatre Company. Lujan, the current Program Director for Acting at University of the Arts, has a background in comedy as a graduate of The Groundlings School of Improvisation in Los Angeles. He has helped devise performance in Seoul and acted in film and television in LA.
Scenic Designer Brian Froonjian (Beehive), who also serves as the Walnut’s Technical Director, takes us from a stately manor in Surrey to Holmes’ base at 221B Baker Street in London. Creating a large variety of costumes for the actors’ quick changes is the Walnut’s Costume Shop Manager Natalia De La Torre whose work includes Nina Simone at People’s Light and Snow White at the Arden. They are joined by Lighting Designer Shon Causer (A Woman of No Importance, A Comedy of Tenors, The Humans) and multi-award-winning Sound Designer Christopher Colucci (A Woman of No Importance, A Comedy of Tenors, and The Humans).
SHERLOCK HOLMES – THE ADVENTURE OF THE SPECKLED BAND runs at the Walnut from February 22 through March 27, 2022. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, March 13, 7pm performance. This production is sponsored by Ramona Gwynn and Essential Utilities. Media Sponsors are 6ABC and Metro Philadelphia. Discounted tickets are sponsored by PNC Arts Alive. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.