A Study in Scarlet reveals that Sherlock Holmes first introduced himself to Dr. Watson with the cry, “I’ve found it! I’ve found it!” Holmes had just made an important chemical discovery. “It is interesting,” Watson remarks. Had Holmes made another finding that day, had he discovered instead, say, a production ofSherlock Holmes (The Early Years) at the New York Musical Theatre festival, Watson could have made no such rejoinder. Elementary it is. But not interesting.
This musical reimagines Holmes and Watson on their first case, searching not for a mysterious Mormon, but for an absconded governess, some disappeared jewels, and the identity of a thief known as “the Spider.” The book and lyrics make occasional attempts at pastiche but too often settle for linguistic anachronism, cheap gay jokes, and arrhythmic couplets such as “There isn’t anything much finer/Than a crime that couldn’t be described as minor.” A few songs move the plot along, but most clot it up like so much tea-time cream. William Connell’s Watson and Gavin Lodge’s Holmes make an attractive pair, and Connell displays some fine comic abilities. But despite such sporadic pleasures, the evening drags. Where are the Reichenbach Falls when you need ’em?