Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall Meeting Report


Under London-like leaden skies, fifty members and guests of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit journeyed to Rochester, Michigan on October 14, 2007 for the fall meeting of the society.

While partaking of potables at the Rochester Mills Beer Company, a brew pub restaurant housed in a former knitting mill, the group (barely) heard Gasogene John Kramb offer illumination on several key points in the story, “The Adventure of the Three Students.” While the Gasogene’s dissection of the story was brilliant, the acoustics were less so, due to the hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and the competition from several large screen TVs blaring Sunday football games.

In spite of that, the Gasogene also managed to warmly welcome several guests who had traveled from as far away as Michigan’s Thumb and Dayton, Ohio, specifically for this meeting. Also joining the group was Meadow Brook Theatre artistic director David Regal, which was appropriate since, after the meal, the merry Mendicants were heading to his playhouse to catch MBT’s production of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” in its Michigan debut.

During the repast, the usual toasts were offered to The Woman by Mary Louise Kramp; Watson’s Second Wife by Phil Jones; Mrs. Hudson by Al Calderini and Mycroft Holmes by John Zemonski.

Due to the theater outing, no monographs were read during the meeting but the post-prandial raffle of a Sherlock Holmes “Pub in a Box” set raised $44 for club coffers and was won by Beverly Sobolewski.

As the end of the meeting drew near, Anne Musial joined church choristers Jim and Gayle Conway to lead the crowd in a chorus of “God Save the Queen” and Tantalus Rob Musial gave a dramatic reading of the immortal poem “A Long Evening with Holmes” to adjourn the dinner portion of the festivities.

Then, it was off to the theater to see the opening weekend performance of the play, recently written by Steven Dietz and based on earlier theatrical works crafted by the legendary actor William Gillette and the literary agent Arthur Conan Doyle.

Dietz’ play was a successful adaptation and blend of two of the Master’s adventures, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final Problem.” MBT’s version starred Richard Marlatt as Holmes, Chip DuFord as Dr. Watson, Sarab Kamoo as Irene Adler, Aaron T. Moore as the King of Bohemia and Thomas D. Mahard as Prof. Moriarty. Billing should also be given to a ghostly presence on-stage who managed to get in on the act, at one point knocking off the horn of a Victorian Victrola when no one was nearby. Perhaps it was merely one of Conan Doyle’s spirit friends.

After the play, the cast and director Regal returned to the stage in street clothes to hold a “talk back” about the play with AMS members and MBT patrons.

The session lasted nearly an hour as the cast, director and audience asked and answered questions about the play, the characters and various points of Sherlockiana, though leaving unspoken why Mahard did not oscillate his head in a reptilian manner as part of his portrayal of Moriarty.

All in all, the unique combination of a dinner-and-a-play went down in the annals as one of the most unique outings in the history of the 61-year-old society.

It is likely that even Holmes himself would have enjoyed the evening, for as he explained in “The Valley of Fear” adventure, “Watson insists that I am the dramatist in real life.”

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Musial, Tantalus

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

AMS/Meadowbrook Theatre Press Release


Nearly 50 metro Detroit Sherlock Holmes buffs will attend the Meadow Brook Theatre production of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” on Sunday, Oct. 14.

Known as The Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit, the group was founded in 1946 to discuss the exploits of the famed Victorian-era detective and his associate, Dr. John H. Watson, as detailed in the 60 stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. "

"We are attending the play at the Meadow Brook Theatre to make sure that undo liberties have not been taken with the characters of Holmes and Watson. After all, we collectively are rather protective of Watson and Holmes,” said John Kramb, the president (or Gasogene) of the Amateur Mendicants.

Known as “the Canon", the original Holmes’ adventures continue to enjoy an enthusiastic following among readers young and old. Members of clubs such as the Amateur Mendicants take their appreciation one step further, by participating in what is called “The Game", the gentle belief that Holmes and Watson were real people, that Watson actually wrote the stories, and that Doyle was merely Watson’s literary agent.

Part of this fellowship requires members of such clubs to read and discuss the original stories and attempt to explain or clear up their occasional inaccuracies. “Reading the stories and discussing the nuances and inconsistencies of the Holmes mysteries is like getting a free passport to the Victorian Age," said Kramb. "In our quarterly meetings, we enjoy the camaraderie, the debate on fine points of the stories, a nice meal and a few toasts to The Queen and other characters of renown in the Holmes’ adventures,” he said.

Though most of Doyle’s stories were written more than 100 years ago, the character of Sherlock Holmes (and his trusted doctor friend) continues to fascinate readers and theater-goers, as evidenced by this new Meadow Brook play, which opens Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 4.

As for the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit, what draws the group together is the thrill of Holmes solving the cases with Watson while readers and fans are carried along on the adventure. On Oct. 14, the Mendicants, almost fifty strong, will attend Meadow Brook Theatre to cheer on their hero – and to help make sure that Holmes solves the adventure one more time.
For more information on the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit, please contact: amateurmendicantsociety@hotmail.com