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July 17, 2017
NYMF Review: My Dear Watson
Kyle Stone, Justin Mousseau, John DiDonna in MY DEAR WATSON.

My Dear Watson (at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater for NYMF) is not exactly a new take on the story of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, it doesn't take a consulting detective to predict most of the musical's events just before they occur - simply because most of us have seen this story play out before. So you'll know that when John Watson tells Lestrade he needs a place to live, Lestrade will introduce him to Sherlock Holmes. Then, when Watson and Holmes meet, you know that Holmes will amaze Watson with his deduction skills, that they'll move into Baker Street, etc. You probably know what's going to happen in the end when Holmes and Moriarty face off at the Reichenbach Falls. And you're going to be skeptical down to the last minute about whether or not Sherlock Holmes is in fact gone for good.

Despite all of that, we keep making and watching movies, TV shows, and plays about Sherlock Holmes, so in the end, it would seem that the element of surprise is not all that essential. Maybe it's not so much the plot as it is the characters that attract us to Conan Doyle's story, and all its various reincarnations: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson - the enduring duo that never fails to amuse, delight, and inspire.

It's certainly the characters that take center stage in Jami-Leigh Bartschi's My Dear Watson: A Sherlock Holmes Musical (directed by John Didonna, who also plays Holmes). While there is a fine story as well (and a good mystery in the middle), this show hinges on the relationship between Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes. The bromance is real.

As John Watson is the heart of Sherlock Holmes, so Kyle Stone's John Watson is the heart of this production. Besides looking the part perfectly, he acts with vulnerability, courage, and sincere emotion - and the musical never shines more brightly than in those moments when Watson ponders his strange friend and their strange, but endearing, relationship.

Fittingly, the back and forth between Holmes and Watson is clever and delightful (the audience I saw the show with absolutely loved it); and these moments also rank among the show's best. In fact, Bartschi's script very successfully elucidates the relationship between the two characters, digging into the heart of the friendship by revealing both characters' true feelings - beneath their teasing banter and Holmes's aloof facade. I found the song "It Was Worth a Wound" especially sweet.

Consequently, fans of Sherlock Holmes will doubtless enjoy My Dear Watson. It's a fun little musical that banks on the ever-enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as a duo. It's not exactly chock full of showstoppers (though the music is nice) and it may leave a little something to be desired in parts; but it's Sherlock Holmes. And Sherlock Holmes is always good - especially with John Watson at his side. And, as Stone's Watson informs us, he'll be there 'til the end of time. Truer words were never spoken.

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NYMF Interview: Jami-Leigh Bartschi on ‘My Dear Watson’

By Hanna Oldsman

The 2017 New York Musical Festival, which runs July 10 through August 6, will bring audiences four full weeks of new musicals, concerts, readings, and panel discussions. We spoke with Jami-Leigh Bartschi about her musical My Dear Watson. What was the first musical that made you want to make musicals?  I’m not sure that there was a specific musical that made me want to write one.  Actually, I wasn’t even working on a show at the time. But I’ve always loved musical theater and Sherlock Holmes, and it was really the love of both that gave birth to this idea. Describe the sound of your musical, it’s like ______ meets ______. Frank Wildhorn meets Stephen Sondheim. What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes adaptation of all time? And your favorite Sherlock Holmes story?  The Jeremy Brett series from the 1980s is absolutely the most accurate Sherlock Holmes adaptation ever made. Oddly enough, The Great Mouse Detective is also a really outstanding interpretation of the stories.  The BBC’s Sherlock is also a really clever and creatively accurate interpretation, especially in the earlier seasons. It’s difficult to choose a favorite Sherlock Holmes story.  “The Final Problem” is definitely a favo …Read more

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Written by: Erin Kahn
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