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The Baskerville Bash 2005

Catalina Hannan

 

The Manhattan Club was once again the location for a night of Sherlockian fun and food at the annual Baskerville Bash. Approximately one hundred attendees (including guests from Canada and Japan) milled and thronged before the entertainment began in a room filled with balloons and old time radio theme centerpieces.

Welcoming and housekeeping announcements delivered by Maribeau Briggs were followed by toasts to an outstanding writer or interpreter of the role of Sherlock Holmes. The offerings of Mike and Paula Riezenman (William Gillette), John J. Krist and Angela Jameson (Basil Rathbone), Jan Stauber and Al Gregory (Edith Meiser), and Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves (Jeremy Brett) were amusing, respectful, informative and very well received. 

Then came an energetic and hilarious insight into the workings of the 1930’s WBBC (Wavelength Baskerville Bash Committee) radio station, aided by lavish production values and authentic sound effects. Financially troubled owners, Neville and Myrna St. Clair (Peter McIntyre and Maribeau Briggs), spent the evening trying to hold their station together with the hopes of a guest broadcast appearance of Mr. Basil Rathbone. The first half of the evening was filled with backstage sparring, the game show Queen for an Hour (the most miserable Canonical female won) hosted by Hilton Cubitt (Drew Thomas) and Horace Harker (Michael Pollak), and Search for the Days of Tomorrow As The Copper Beeches Turn, the weekly soap opera following the travails and Hollywood quests of the Rucastle family. These were interspersed with musical offerings from the Cushing Sisters (Elyse Locurto, Catalina Hannan and Laurie Manifold) and the antics of Billy the Page (Alex Katz in his Bash debut role). 

Canonical commercials were a big hit, especially the dancing Bradley‘s Cigarettes box (Elyse Locurto). After the buffet dinner, Ron Fish’s Reading of the Roster of Scions, and more socializing, the second part of the show opened with a reality legal drama built around an eviction order for Sherlock Holmes. Despite the non-appearance of Mr. Basil Rathbone, confirmed by a series of telegrams delivered from that esteemed actor throughout the evening, the radio station cast bravely carried on with Hollywood scandal, songs, and spats.

The “Reverend” Billy Fields and his assistant, Aimee Fitzroy MacPherson (Jan Stauber, resplendent in white robes), presiding over the auction,  praised the heavens and prodded the audience into bidding on three original Sherlockian treasures: Joe Coppola’s beautiful handmade reproduction 1930 working radio, Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves’ certificate to create an adorable Canonical teddy bear of one’s choice, and Laurie Manifold’s leather bound sketchbook filled with 150 fabulous and original Canonical drawings. The raffle prize, a Baker Street t-shirt created and donated by Cynthia Wein, was won by Becky Robare.

Back at the radio station, the broadcast concluded with a new version of The Hound of the Baskervilles and the surprise appearance of Mr. William Gillette (Chuck Kovacic) stepping into the role of Sherlock Holmes at the last moment. Zoot-suited Audrey Epstein, at the piano all evening, accompanied a final medley of more Sherlockian-adapted songs from the 1920’s and 1930’s, including I Got Murder, Canonical Connections, and Our Holmes is Here to Stay.  A double rendition of Holmes’ and Watson’s Time brought the evening’s entertainment to an end. 

Special credits for the evening go to Maribeau Briggs (director and technical operations), John Shrawder (technical operations and many other tasks), Laurie Manifold (script), Catalina Hannan (lyrics), Audrey Epstein (musical director) and Dolores Pekar (Manhattan Club liaison and technical operations). Additional thanks go to Laurie and Audrey for artistic and production work respectively on the handsome, period program—each of which contained the bonus of Laurie’s original paper dolls of Basil Rathbone and William Gillette.  Thanks are also due to Peter McIntyre (Bash Committee Chairman), Drew Thomas (Webmaster), Paula Perry (Registration), Francine Kitts (Packets), and Elyse Locurto, Alex Katz, Michael Pollak, Carol Fish, and Allan Devitt for their assistance and participation. As is customary, the party continued well into the night with encores of songs from the show and more Sherlockian camaraderie.

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