Known to be one of the greatest mystery detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure will hit the stage on April 22. Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes in 1881 during his spare time while he was a doctor.
Doyle wrote 60 stories, 4 of which were novels, from 1881 to 1927. The director of the Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, Gene Putnam, is the go to person when it comes to all things Sherlock. Putnam has worked at Pierce college since 1989.
Putnam retired in 2011. He occasionally teaches a class or two as an adjunct professor according to managing director Michael Sande.
“Gene is a Sherlock fanatic, he knows more about Sherlock Holmes then probably Sherlock Holmes,” Sande said. “He’s read and seen everything as far as movies books and plays. He is a big fan of the mystery genre.”
Putnam has done set design, lighting, directing, and taught on several productions.
“I’ve probably been involved with 80 or so productions since I started here,” Putnam said. “I did Cabaret in winter 2014 and also To Kill a Mockingbird last Spring.”
Directors are the authors of a play. The vision they want to show to an audience is brought to life by the actors and designers.
“There is an overall concept and vision I have for the show,” Putnam said. “The actors and designers portray the characters and develop the concept and style I want.”
According to Putnam the character is brought to life from not only his vision but the life and experiences of the actors as well. Anthony Cantrell is a former Pierce College student that auditioned for the role of Sherlock Holmes and was successful in getting it.
“I started at Pierce College 30 years ago when I was 17,” Cantrell said. “Then I transferred to UCLA to get my Bachelors in Theatre. Later on I went to the University of Michigan to obtain PhD in Theatre.”
According to Sande, Cantrell was asked to audition because he previously worked with Putnam and it was thought that he could be a good Sherlock Holmes if things worked out.
“This is all a labor of love,” Cantrell said. “I am a huge fan of most things British, I actually did a semester abroad in Cambridge England through Pierce.”
In 2006 Steven Dietz wrote a version of Sherlock Holmes that encompasses 3 different stories from Doyle.
“I know Dietz quite well, we were colleagues in Seattle,” Sande said. “This version is faithful to the original. It leaves you wondering if Sherlock is dead or not. It has the old
characters like Professor Moriarty and his love Irene Adler. You get to see Sherlock in a way you haven’t seen him before.”
According to Putnam there are two ideas that Sherlock Holmes always provides, friendship and deductive reasoning.
“The stories are enduring and take the audience on an adventure but it also focuses on the friendship of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson,” Putnam said.
All of the designers on this play are faculty but students are involved in working on the designs during class. There are 13 people that make up the cast for the play.
“I am very proud of the cast that I have,” Putnam said. “They are committed, hardworking and amplify my ideas.”
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure can be seen in the Mainstage Theatre during the weekends of April 22 to May 1 at various times.
In the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘When all options have been explored and the only one left, must be. The game’s afoot.’