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A study in Sherlock

St. Paul's student to step into sleuth's shoes for play

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The case of an upcoming Sherlock Holmes mystery isn’t elementary — it’s high school.

The Dramatic Society at St. Paul’s High School (2200 Grant Ave.) is gearing up for its production of Sherlock Holmes, with a cast of more than 50 students, not including backstage crew members.

 This season’s portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective — who will be played by Grade 10 student Angus MacLennan, 15 — will premiere Fri., Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the school’s Massey Hall.

"Sherlock is just one of the greatest characters in literature," MacLennan said. "He’s just so complex and riveting. It’s honestly just great to be playing him."

Anna McGill is co-directing Sherlock Holmes with fellow teacher Ray Comeault. She said the play will be the typical lady in distress-style Sherlock mystery.

"It’s about a young girl who is being (held) captive because of some documents that she processes and everybody wants them, including Sherlock Holmes and the villain Professor Moriarty," McGill said. "It’s an action-filled play, it’s not based on one of the short stories."

The school also looks to St. Mary’s Academy to find onstage performers and backstage crew members.

"We usually have plays that are a male-heavy cast, but we love having the St. Mary’s girls participate," McGill said. "They are really wonderful to work with."

To prepare for the role of Sherlock, MacLennan has been watching a lot of movies and television series that have been based on the character over the decades. He said he has even started to pick up some of Sherlock’s traits.

"I’ve started to notice, as of being in rehearsals, and trying to get into that place where you are observing everything around you, I’ve started to do that in real life," MacLennan said. "Not on purpose sometimes, it’s kind of weird."

McGill said Sherlock is not a black-and-white character. He has many different traits and demons.

"One thing that really helps is seeing how other actors have taken the role," MacLennan said. "Watching different series, I started watching the BBC one (Sherlock), that one is actually really good."

MacLennan credits his years as a musician for the ability to memorize the many lines in the show — it’s Sherlock’s highbrow vocabulary that can add a challenge.

This is not MacLennan’s first production at St. Paul’s. He was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest last fall, a production in which he had no lines, but then took the lead in The Quest for Merlin’s Magic in the spring.

"I read through the script and I realized that I had no lines (in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), so I got pretty discouraged there," MacLennan said. "But after I got the lead it was a pretty exciting time."

McGill said the Society brings together students from all the school’s grades.

"Coming in as a freshman in Grade 9, it’s a pretty startling experience, so to be part of something like drama where you meet old peers and older role models, it’s good to make friendships like that," MacLennan said.

MacLennan encourages everyone to come out to the Dramatic Society if they are interested. He also said students should not get discouraged if they don’t get a line, like he did.

"Everything that you do at this school, you start out at rock-bottom and you have to work your way up," MacLennan said. "You just have to be patient and let it happen."

Showtimes for Sherlock Holmes are Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 8 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or from any St. Paul’s student.

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