Local audiences can continue following a locally-crafted and extremely popular series based on Sherlock Holmes with The Sign of Four, opening June 14th at the Nickel Studio.
Adapted and directed by Albertus Koett, The Sign of Four continues a series of productions adapted from the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that was launched last fall with A Study in Scarlet.
Another ‘chapter’ in the series ran this past winter, and this season wraps with The Sign of Four. But Koett has a story arch planned that will see shows staged for two more full seasons via Central Alberta Theatre.
Jason Steele stars in the principle role with Paul Sutherland in the role of Watson.
According to the synopsis, “After a murder in a locked room, where no one could have entered or exited, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are called in to investigate.
“While this investigation is going on, they must also contend with the newly-discovered threat of the mysterious Professor Moriarty.
“Holmes and Watson are headed down a dangerous path, against an even more dangerous foe.”
Koett said he knows where he wants all of the characters to be at the end of the series, so it’s ultimately about looking through all of the Doyle stories and thinking about what elements of the tales can lend themselves in part to this point in Sherlock’s journey.
And of course, this process includes largely adapting the legendary story The Sign of Four as well.
“It’s looking through the Doyle works and thinking which one would suit my story,” he said. “So there are some elements of other stories in this one.”
By this point in the process, Koett added that it’s getting easier from a rehearsal standpoint with his outstanding cast.
“It’s a short rehearsal process, so everyone is getting used to that. The technical elements that we need, as far as set, prop and costumes – we already have a lot of those from the previous productions,” he said.
“It reduces a lot of that prep time, and we’ve gotten pretty good at understanding everybody’s strengths as far as what they can bring to the project,” he added. Also, cast members who’ve appeared in the other shows are playing different characters in this one, so the learning and growing are continuous.
“Paul and Jason of course play the same characters, but other actors get to play a variety of different characters which has been quite fun.”
As to the initial inspiration for the project, Koett said that back in January of 2017, he and his wife decided they would launch their own 30 books in 2017 challenge.
They were heading out on a trip and Koett grabbed the first book he saw on the shelf – volume one of the Sherlock Holmes collection by Doyle.
He eventually decided to create a sort of episodic, theatrical series with it.
Interestingly, when Doyle had Sherlock Holmes killed off in one of the stories, people in and around London in particular were so devastated and outraged that some even wore black armbands as a symbol of grief in losing such a beloved character.
To their relief, Holmes re-appeared about six years later in further tales.
For Koett, it’s all the more of a delight to see local audiences flocking to the shows which have consistently sold out quickly.
“It’s exciting to be part of it,” he said. “People want to be part of this fun experience.”
For more information about the local productions, visit www.centralalbertatheatre.net.