‘A Sherlock Carol’: it’s inventive, it’s intriguing, it’s a feel-good Christmas story

‘A Sherlock Carol’: it’s inventive, it’s intriguing, it’s a feel-good Christmas story


“A Sherlock Carol” is a mash-up of two literary giants, Sherlock Holmes and The Christmas Carol.

“A Sherlock Carol” is a mash-up of two literary giants, Sherlock Holmes and The Christmas Carol.

Ever receive a Christmas present that was exactly what you needed, even though you may not have realized you wanted it?

That’s what “A Sherlock Carol” at the Florida Repertory Theatre (Through Dec. 17) is: a magnificent Christmastime theatrical gift.

What a delicious, thoroughly satisfying play. I had a smile on my face the entire time.

“A Sherlock Carol” is a mash up of Sherlock Holmes and the classic “A Christmas Carol”.

You may not think it will work, but it does.

Is it a mystery? A ghost story? A comedy? A tale of redemption?

Yes, yes, yes, yes. All of the above.

“A Sherlock Carol” is a story of hope, of the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a morality play but set in Victorian times and minus any obnoxious preaching or finger wagging.

It includes ghosts, a murder, a lost will, a stolen jewel, an innocent imprisoned man and an old love.

Nicholas Wilder plays a bruting Sherlock Holmes, lost and despondent since he defeated his great enemy, Moriarty, three years ago. Life seems to have no meaning and he’s lost himself.



Ensemble member, William McNulty, portrays a redeemed Scrooge as kind and generous as he was previously miserly and ill tempered.

And four performers act as a kind of Greek Chorus, narrating the play while also commenting on it, portraying a wide variety of characters in 1894 London. They even sing. (Musical direction and piano accompaniment by Gary Stroh.)

Tiny Tim (Matt Lytle) now grown up and a doctor, searches out Holmes on Christmas Eve to solve the mysterious death of Scrooge. Someone had sent Scrooge a threatening note and then there’s the matter of his missing will.

Despite his depression, Holmes grows interested in the case.

He meets an inept Scotland Yard inspector (Chrissy Albanese) as well as Scrooge’s hysterical housekeeper (played with abandon by Jason Parrish, who received well-deserved exit applause on opening night. Parrish also plays an Irish candlemaker, a seller of secondhand goods and a jovial Watson.)



A willowy Jackie Schram makes a very welcome return to the Florida Rep stage. Also, as a multitude of characters, including Mrs. Watson, Tiny Tim’s smart but unpolished sister, and a saucy countess who performs Christmas songs on stage.

It’s wondrous the way these few actors Schram, Parrish, Albanese and Lytle transform and become various and varied characters.

It’s an actors’ dream challenge, to portray so many different people, and then audience’s delight to watch.

(Lytle’s Mr. Topper, a hotel owner, is especially enjoyable.)

The set (Robert F. Wolin) is equally as transformative-stonewalls with arches, providing layers and depth with Christmas wreaths scattered about. (The snow drifts on ledges, however, are anemic, looking more like wispy cobwebs or cheap Santa beards.)

With a variety of moving mini-sets, a window, a door, parts of a wall, the stage transforms into everything from Scrooges’ front door and bedroom to an actor’s backstage dressing room, assisted by Abby May’s lighting and Katie Lowe’s sound design. Costume designer Stefanie Genda and wig designer Kate Casalino make the actors’ transformations complete.

A Sherlock Carol

A Sherlock Carol

Director Jeffrey Binder wrings the most humor from this play, while adding some of his own touches- including, some scenes with a goose, a choreographic removal of table and chairs, and a dumbfounding, slow-motion graceful fall by Albanese.

Mark Shanahan’s superlative script is clever not gimmicky. His love of “A Christmas Carol” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle shines through, with plenty of quirky Dickens-ian characters and Sherlock-ian clues and reasoning.

Wilder and McNulty excel in their roles as Holmes and Scrooge. Wilder gives us a lost, haunted man. While Scrooge demonstrates the glee of a redeemed man who experiences joy in acts of generosity and charity.

Nancy Stetson

Nancy Stetson

In this mashup, Shanahan has Sherlock say “bah” and Scrooge proclaim, “the game’s afoot.” And like author Nick Hornsby did with “Dickens and Prince,” shows us how the two are more similar than we realized.

It’s inventive, it’s intriguing, it’s the season’s feel-good Christmas show that should not be missed.

You don’t have to know, “A Christmas Carol” or “Sherlock Holmes” to be entertained, though there are plenty of references and Easter eggs for those who do.

“A Sherlock Carol” ticks our funny bone while also nudging our heart.

It also makes us ponder that age old mystery: What can change a life? As Tiny Tim states, “What can make a man transform? It’s a mystery.”

But, as Scrooge assures us, “It’s never too late to change.”

Feeling haunted?

Or just full of despair this Christmas season?

Go see “A Sherlock Carol”. It will touch even the coldest heart. ¦

In the KNOW

A Sherlock Carol

· When: Dec. 6-17

· Where: Historic Arcade Theatre, 2268 Bay Street, downtown Fort Myers

· Cost: $65

· Information: 239-332-4488 or www.flordarep.org