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Santa Barbara City College Goes Elementary with ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’

Brian Harwell and Jon Koons are Holmes and Watson in the exciting new City College ‘Hound of the Baskervilles.’
Brian Harwell and Jon Koons are Holmes and Watson in the exciting new City College ‘Hound of the Baskervilles.’  (Ben Crop / Theatre Group at SBCC photo)

October 14–31, in the Garvin Theatre, the Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College continues their 70th anniversary season with a new adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s best-known Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright, directed by R. Michael Gros, sets by Patricia L. Frank, costumes by Pamela Shaw, lighting by Theodore Michael Dolas and sound by Ben Crop.

The production stars Brian Harwell (Sherlock Holmes) and Jon Koons (Dr. John Watson), plus Elaine Arnett, Blake Benlan, George Coe, Daniel Colohan, Aurora De Leon, Robert Demetriou, Colton Fair, Marion Freitag, Joshua Daniel Herschfield, Sean Jackson, Brayden Myrick, Sara Persson, Jenna Scanlon and Allan Stewart-Oaten.

It is autumn, 1889. Holmes and Watson travel to Devonshire, to the family seat of the Baskervilles, in order to investigate the question of what could have frightened Sir Charles Baskerville to death. 

Add rumors of an ancient family curse and an immense spectral Hound (possibly from Hell), and you can be sure that the game is definitely afoot.

The great thing about the Holmes stories, and the reason they can be adapted and filmed again and again, is that the crime or the criminal make almost no impression on us. All we remember are Holmes and the other two members of the menage at 221B Baker Street, Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson.

The personality of Sherlock Holmes is so powerful and charismatic, so definite and unwavering, that it imposes itself on every actor who plays him, which is not to say that it doesn't matter who plays him, or Watson, but it really doesn't matter who plays any of the other running characters like Moriarity, Inspector Lestrade or Irene Adler.

The Holmes stories are also a vivid illustration of the difference between art and life. On the page, the stage or the screen, we delight in watching Holmes be endlessly brilliant.

In person, it is likely our eyes would start to glaze over pretty quick — probably after the second or third dazzling deduction. The new and wildly popular BBC series, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, makes a sly acknowledgement of this fact in one of their early episodes.

After Holmes has told Watson a string of facts about the doctor that only he, Watson, could know, Watson says: "That's the most remarkable thing anybody has ever said to me."

Holmes offers a quizzical smile. "Most people don't react that way to me."

"How do they usually react?"

"They say 'Piss off!'"

From Oct. 14–31, 2015 The Hound of the Baskervilles plays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays.

The Theater group extends the following invitation: "On the evening of October 31, Halloween, audience members are encouraged to wear their best Sherlock Holmes or steam punk costume to get in the spirit of the mystery."

Ticket prices range $10–$18 for previews; $14–$24 Thursdays and Sundays and $17–$26 Fridays and Saturdays.

For information or reservations call the Garvin Theatre box office at 805.965.5935 or purchase tickets online at

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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