Opposite: The Taos Children's Theater production of 'The Red-Headed League' goes online. Top left, clockwise: Zimri Shilke is the Scotland Yard sergeant; Jaimie Ritchie as the victim; Ella Aquino as the pawn shop customer; Stephan Shaw as head of Scotland Yard and Satya Shaw as Sherlock Holmes.

Courtesy photo

Many revere Sherlock Holmes as the greatest private detective that ever lived.

This beloved English gumshoe is a fictionalized character, from the genius mind of British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. One of the most intriguing Doyle stories, "Adventures of the Red-Headed League," will be explored by the Taos Children's Theater in a 10-day theater/dance Zoom intensive.

The premiere of this iconic classic, directed by Karen Thibodeau, premieres on YouTube this Sunday (Nov. 15) at 5:15 p.m. Here is your link to the YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/IGGI5OBMQFY.

A cast of young, as well as older actors, sporting a range of British accents unravels this mystery starting in London 1890.

At Saxe Coburg Square, which is a famous semi fictionalized location in London, the red-headed Darnley sisters (Kathryn Ballard and Jaimie Ritchie) are just making ends meet in their pawn shop. The Darnley sisters advertise for more help in the shop, and inadvertently hire an operating criminal, John Daly, played by Taos High School graduate J Ryan Cox.

This Holmes piece seems particularly appropriate, says Thibodeau, because the TCT talent pool includes a number of redheads. One not so redhead (Martin Roaque who plays a mistaken redhead), one very redhead (Rowan Higdon as a member of the gang) and one blazing redhead (Ballard as the sister who owns the pawn shop). Also Ritchie - who has a red wig.

Zooming in from New York father and son acting team, Stephan and Satya Shaw, auditioned during a summer break from urban COVID-19. They captured two leads. Satya plays Sherlock Holmes, and his thespian dad takes on Scotland Yard's Chief Jenkins. Sergeant McAfee (Zimri Schilke) backs up Jenkins.

Holmes' astute assistant, Dr. Watson (Gerson Sequen), is on the spot. Sequen Zooms in from New York City, although he comes from even farther away. "I'm hoping to work in film as an actor and director," says Sequen, "This is an opportunity to expand my skills."

John Daly (the operating criminal played by J Ryan Cox), assisted by Peter Galt (Christopher Heron) and Mr. Javetts (Rowan Hidgon), brings a job opportunity to the attention of the girls. A newspaper ad asks for redheads to work for the Red-Headed League, doing a simple job for an incredible salary.

Daly assures the ladies he'll take care of the shop - "They should go earn the money and improve their lives." Several other random redheads (Ella Aquino, Zeta Schilke) apply for the job, but Javetts proves them to be dye jobs or faking with wigs.

Amber Vasquez makes a cameo appearance as Mrs. Thurston, a pawnshop customer, coming in with her 5-year-old son, Grayson Thomas, to pawn his antique toy horse. This is Grayson's debut, his first "film" role, and he gives his all, calling out, "Mommy, Horsie Horse says no!"

Unbeknownst to the Darnley sisters, John Daly's team is tunneling through to the Coburg City and Suburban Bank, which backs their shop. The bank in fact just received a shipment of 2,000 gold Napoleons in a transaction with the Bank of France. So, while the girls work at the Red-Headed League's office, the Daly team digs. When Holmes informs the bank president, Mrs. Merryweather (Shanti Jones), is shocked beyond belief as is her secretary Tillie (Tirzah Schilke).

The jig is up when Holmes comes on the case. This particular plot, tunneling through to a bank vault, is a favorite from the playbook of international operators. In the recent past, a bank in Philadelphia suffered a similar invasion.

Tea is served during the play and Zoom-cast by Mrs. Hudson (Karen Thibodeau) - and Thibodeau is an engaging narrator throughout. The entire cast romps with Holmes in the finale to the music of the London Rag, choreographed by Michelle Roaque.

Sponsors for this theater/dance intensive include the New Mexico Arts and Jones Family Fund, and Taos businesses. Roaque Rhapsodies created all special effects.

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