Off-Broadway Review: “My Dear Watson” at the New York Musical Festival

Off-Broadway Review: “My Dear Watson” at the New York Musical Festival

David Roberts

  • OnStage Chief New York Theatre Critic

“My Dear Watson,” part of the New York Musical Festival 2017, is a musical testament to the genius of “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes (John Didonna) and the deep friendship between the iconic fictional detective and his devoted sidekick Dr. John H. Watson (Kyle Stone). Jami-Leigh Bartschi’s musical has been in development for nine years, yet “My Dear Watson” seems to still be in the early stages of its formation.

The book, music, and lyrics are at best unremarkable and the performances range from barely adequate to completely inadequate. John DiDonna’s direction is haphazard and the staging is sophomoric. It is difficult to discern what precisely contributes to the lack of success of this musical. The characters – drawn from fiction – are not believable and their conflicts, though based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, are not interesting. Equally uninteresting is the plot these conflicts struggle to drive. In the battle between Holmes and Moriority (Jason Blackwater), one really does not care who survives.

Then there are the odd “empty spaces” filled with music at the beginning of each act (attempts at an overture and an entr’acte?) with either an empty stage or actors wandering aimlessly around the stage. Mr. Stone’s Watson, wounded by a bullet in the leg during the Afghan War, rarely uses his cane, sometimes remembers to limp, but more often scampers or runs across the stage with grace and ease. 

“My Dear Watson” has the distinct flavor of community theater and needs considerable work to move forward. If nothing else, the musical reminds the audience that Holmes and Watson had a fictional bromance to beat the band.

 

MY DEAR WATSON

The cast of “My Dear Watson” includes Jason Blackwater, Liz Curtis, John DiDonna, Jackson McLaskey, Justin Mousseau, Kyle Stone, and Jaz Zapatos. Musicians: Pati Sayers (pianist) and Deri Park (violinist). Production photos by Chris Bridges.

The production will run through Sunday, August 16, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at The Peter Jay Sharp Theater, located at 416 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues on the south side of 42nd Street). General Admission tickets are $29.75. For reservations and information (including cast and creative team) visit http://www.nymf.org/festival/2017-events/my-dear-watson/ or call 212-352-3101. Running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes with one 10-minute intermission.

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