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Cleveland Play House’s production of ‘Moriarty’ is a classic masterpiece

There are certain elements that seem inherent to a Cleveland Play House production of a Ken Ludwig work. These include but are not limited to an experienced professional cast, brilliant dialog, sparkling comedy (of the laugh out loud variety), intriguing and believable characters, elaborate sets, costumes and props and of course solidly built slamming doors.

At its world premiere in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square, Cleveland, Ohio (YEA CLEVELAND), Ludwig’s latest offering, “Moriarty” is destined to be a huge hit. Sherlock Holmes (Christian Pedersen) and Dr. Watson (Nick Gaswirth) are joined by three actors, Jeffrey M. Bender, Talley Gale and Olivia Gilliatt playing over 40 different parts, all of them extremely well.

Ken Ludwig has had six shows on Broadway and seven in London’s West End with many of his works becoming part of the American standard repertoire. His thirty-two plays and musicals have been staged in over 30 countries in more than 20 languages with at least one being produced somewhere in America every night of the year.

In the show “Moriarty”, the King of Bohemia, Von Ormstein (Otto to his friends) has had love letters from a past affair stolen along with a compromising photo. It soon comes to light that master criminal Professor James Moriarty Holmes and his network of henchmen are behind this theft and that much more is at stake. Sherlock Holmes teams up with American actress Irene Adler in order to solve the case. Holmes, Watson and Adler along with Holmes’ army of helpers soon find themselves in an international mystery complete with spies, blackmail and intrigue that sees them chasing their nemesis clear across England and Europe.

This is a superb production in which every detail has been carefully thought out. The stage set by Chika Shimize is a tasteful English drawing room that is easily converted into Holmes’ and Watson’s residence at 221B Baker Street, London, England, to a Covent Garden Theatre, to Paddington Station, to Moriarty’s lair, to King Otto’s palace, to an underground tunnel next to a river, to Reichenbach Falls and more.

The costuming by Lex Liang is period appropriate and very well suited for the show as well as the wig design by Jason Hayes. The lighting design by David Lander sets a brilliant mood and the sound design by Lindsay Jones is crystal clear. The fight scenes are choreographed with real punch by Christian Kelly Sordelet. Not to give anything away but there is an intimacy director, Casey Venema. Dialect coach Amani Dorn thankfully does not overdo the English accent. The show is wonderfully directed by Mark Brokaw and Michael Barakiva. Lastly, there is a “dog” that steals the show.

This show has it all! Danger, laughter, mystery, intrigue, a “dog” and even romance are found around every corner (including lots of slamming doors). To fans of the Sherlock Holmes collection of stories you will be delighted with the surprise ending. With limited seating in the Allen Theatre you would be advised to order your tickets early as this show guarantees to be a sellout. Buy your tickets now!

The Cleveland Play House production of “Moriarty” will be onstage in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square, Cleveland, Ohio through May 21, 2023. for more information and tickets go to or call (216) 241-6000.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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