The New York Musical Festival is in full swing this month through August 6, 2017. My Dear Watson played during the first week. The show is a musical look at Sherlock Holmes as told by his friend, Dr. John Watson. Impressive is the fact that the production is funded in part by The Conan Doyle Estate, the family estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories from 1887 to 1927. With some revision, My Dear Watson has good potential to go to another stage after this Festival and do a more extended run. It has some good music, including songs that tell a story. Several of the songs are lovely ballads. The music covers an aspect of the Sherlock Holmes stories not usually seen.
The show’s book, music and lyrics are by Jami-Leigh Bartschi. Bartschi is a long time Sherlock Holmes fan and her devotion to the famous fictitious detective shines through in this musical. Working alongside this accomplished writer is John DiDonna as the director and the assistant director, Jaz Zepatos. The music for the show is played on a piano by Pati Sayers and violin played by Eri Park. These two instruments served the music well as they created an atmosphere that added both suspense and emotion to the play.
The musical opens as Holmes (John DiDonna) and Watson (Kyle Stone) are brought together for their first meeting by Inspector Lestrade (Justin Mousseau). Both men are down on their luck and need each other to help pay the bills of daily living. As things improve, they find that they have developed a bond which keeps them together with Holmes doing his amazing logical and analytic detective work and Watson recording all that the master detective does. Fans of the Holmes stories will be pleased to see Mrs. Hudson (Liz Curtis) tending the house where the pair room.
The tension in the story builds as Professor Moriarty’s (Jason Blackwater) presence becomes known. Holmes realizes this man is his equal and could be the end of him. After a well choreographed struggle between them, both are presumed dead. Watson is a broken man realizing his great friend is no longer on earth. However, the clue that he might still be alive comes as the final scene which ties in nicely with where the genre went with its own path.
The first half of the musical is a little slow in parts. However, the start of the second act takes on fabulous new life as Professor Moriarty’s character comes more into focus. The scenes between him and Holmes are among the best parts of the show. The songs in the second half are stronger as well. If some changes could be made to the first act, then this show could be well on its way.
Personally, I have never delved into Sherlock Holmes stories. However, I developed an interest in learning and seeing more of it from going to this show. When a musical does that for a viewer, it tells you that the show should continue on!