Honoring the past, building the future with Sherlock Holmes at Pocket Sandwich Theatre

Interview with Director Lauren Hearn, Assistant Director Jake Shanahan and Producer Nick Haley for “Sherlock Holmes – The Melodrama”

Pocket Sandwich Theatre - Sherlock Holmes
Andrew Manning as Sherlock Holmes and Bryan Brooks as John Watson – Courtesy of Pocket Sandwich Theatre

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most beloved detectives of all time, and what better way to treat such a revered character than to throw popcorn at him? That’s what the audience has in store for them when they attend “Sherlock Holmes – The Melodrama,” running from March 29 through May 11 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Historic Downtown Carrollton. 

“Sherlock Holmes – The Melodrama” features what everyone has come to expect from a Sherlock Holmes story: the iconic sleuth and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, taking to the streets to solve all sorts of nefarious schemes set in motion by Holmes’ archnemesis Professor Moriarty. What makes this version of the Holmes legend so memorable is that it is based on the script written by Joe and Brad Dickinson, which mixes all the logic and sleuthing of a Holmes’s story with all the drama, puns, and hilarity of a Pocket Sandwich Theatre melodrama. 

“Sherlock Holmes – The Melodrama” is especially meaningful to Pocket Sandwich Theatre Director Lauren Hearn and Assistant Director Jake Shanahan. The play was last performed 14 years ago when Joe Dickinson passed away, and the play has been on hiatus ever since. “We’re definitely doing this show with Joe Dickinson in mind, “said Hearn. “Getting to revisit the show again as director and it’s been a little emotional, but it’s been so exciting and so fulfilling.”

Hearn was in the play’s cast in 2010 and will now make her melodrama directorial debut with this production. This also marks the first time that she will be directing along with Jake Shanahan, although Hearn said, “Jake and I have worked together on stage in shows for a number of years.”

A new directorial team might take the easy way out and choose a cast that has performed numerous melodramas, but Hearn and Shanahan made it their mission to seek out actors who were new to this theater style. “We really wanted to help encourage a kind of a new generation of melodrama actors and actresses,” Hearn said. That encouragement meant a huge turnout for auditions, some late nights, and some very tough decisions, given how incredibly talented all the actors were.

Hearn and Shanahan focused on casting the Holmes and Moriarty dynamic and then building around that. “We’re incredibly lucky to have gotten the cast that we did; we are so happy that everybody said yes,” said Shanahan.

The talented cast has led to a smooth rehearsal process throughout the production. Shanahan stressed how the cast showed up on day one ready to perform and how rewarding it has been to see the new Pocket Sandwich Theatre actors grow over the rehearsals. “It’s been awesome to watch, especially the new folks…understand how melodrama is supposed to flow,” said Shanahan, “It’s been wonderful to watch them come up with all these new things we would not have even thought of.”

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will spot different classic references alongside “the comedy that I know the team of Lauren and Jake know how to bring into it,” said producer Nick Haley. Holmes fans will even have some new twists to look forward to. Hearn doesn’t want to give away any plot details but promises, “we do have some unique parts…that I hope will be a nice surprise for the audience.”

Haley said he wants people to forget about their problems and enjoy themselves when they come to the play. “We want people to have fun,” said Haley. Hearn also wants to ensure that the show honors Dickinson’s legacy, “I think Joe [Dickinson] would be proud of us. Wherever he is sitting in the theater watching the show, I think he’ll be really, really pleased.”

“Sherlock Holmes – The Melodrama” runs from March 29 through May 11 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Historic Downtown Carrollton. For information and tickets, visit: https://www.pocketsandwich.com/main-stage


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