Joe Wack (left) is Dr. Watson and Jay Vilhauer is Sherlock Holmes in Edmonds Driftwood Players’ “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily,” showing through June 30 in Edmonds. (Dale Sutton)

Joe Wack (left) is Dr. Watson and Jay Vilhauer is Sherlock Holmes in Edmonds Driftwood Players’ “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily,” showing through June 30 in Edmonds. (Dale Sutton)

Sherlock Holmes’ ‘Jersey Lily’ mystery blends fact with fiction

Elementary, my dear Watson, this Edmonds Driftwood Players play is not what you think it is.

Yes, Sherlock Holmes is in the play’s title.

And his character will be on stage.

But if you assume “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily” at Edmonds Driftwood Players is simply a reworking of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s numerous books, you have a surprise in store.

The play’s director, Marty Mackenzie, said many theater-goers likely will expect it to be a retelling of a Sherlock Holmes story.

“Then they’ll get wrapped up in this story and this play, and they’ll say, ‘This is really cool,’” he said.

The play was written by Katie Forgette, a well-known actress in Seattle theater, who has performed with, among other companies, the Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre and Village Theatre.

The play was first performed in 2008 at the People’s Theatre in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Mackenzie said he wasn’t familiar with it until the call went out for directors for Driftwood’s 60th season.

He read the play in preparation for his interview and was fascinated by it. “The more I researched it, the more I really liked it,” he said.

It’s a blending of factual and fictional events. Several things in the play actually did happen, he said.

The play involves Lillie Langtry, an actress well known for her performances in London theaters in the 1890s. She was better known by her nickname, Jersey Lily.

The play’s characters include the fictional — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson — as well as historical Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and playwright, and of course Langtry.

Despite the association with mystery-solving characters, this is not a “whodunnit?” story.

“We’re told relatively early who done it, we’re introduced to the bad guys,” Mackenzie said.

Instead the play’s storyline revolves around Oscar Wilde, a good friend of Holmes. Langtry is being blackmailed and Wilde brings her to Holmes.

“As the play progresses, we discover that what she told Holmes is not the end of the story,” Mackenzie said. “There are things she’s being blackmailed about that she doesn’t want anyone else to know.”

Jay Vilhauer has the title role of Sherlock Holmes, Lillie Langtry is played by Jenifer Rifenbery, Wilde’s character is portrayed by Jacob Livingston, Dr. Watson is played by Joe Wack, and Scott C. Brown portrays Professor Moriarty.

The play is suspenseful, a thriller, and is filled with comedy, Mackenzie said. “It’s fun, it’s exciting.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

Edmonds Driftwood Players present “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily” at the Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St., Edmonds. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 30. Tickets are $28 in general or $25 for seniors, students and military. Call 425-774-9600 or go to edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org for more information.

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