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Friday, April 18, 2014

Baker Street on Broadway

A friend of mine and his writing partner are writing a Sherlock Holmes musical. From what I have seen of the incomplete draft script, they are doing a great job. The lyrics are clever and full of nods to the original stories.

Reading that script made me remember the 1965 Broadway musical Baker Street, starring Fritz Weaver, Martin Gable, and Inga Swenson. I didn't see it, but I own a book version of the script. Like William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes and several other plays, the plotline starts with "A Scandal in Bohemia" and throws in Professor Moriarty.

Two of the scenes take place on Moriarty's yacht. The final confrontation takes place not at the Reichenbach Falls but at the White Cliffs of Dover. From the photos I have seen, Gable looks like a wonderful Moriarty.

The play was not a great success. It closed after just over 300 performances. I don't know whether the problem was the book by Jerome Coopersmith or, more likely, the music and lyrics by Marian Grudeff and Raymond Jessel. But there's one bit of dialogue near the end between Irene Adler and Holmes that I enjoyed very much, even though it is un-Canonical in source and tone:

"Mr. Holmes, you are a fool!"
"For all your brilliant deductions, a fool. I could have given you an adventure beyond your wildest dreams. In feelings you have never known before. Feelings that are not grit, but stimulation to the sensitive, reasoning mind. What a pity that Sherlock Holmes has chosen to leave a mystery unsolved."

On that line, she exits, bound for home in New Jersey. Two pages later, in the closing words of the play, Holmes indicates to Watson that he, too, is leaving -- for America.

It may not be a great musical, but I would love to see it performed.


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  2. If you have not heard it, give a listen to "I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere Episode 26: A Musical Stroll Down Baker Street". Scott Monty and Burt Wolder interview Fritz Weaver about the musical. Weaver's Canonical knowledge is impressive and his recollections are witty and insightful.