He may now have the reputation as the ultimate Ray Cooney interpreter, but Paxton Whitehead also has a long history as fiction's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. He starred on Broadway in 1978's Crucifer Of Blood and at MA's Williamtown Theatre Festival in the 1994 American premiere of the 1986 Hugh Leonard comedy, The Mask Of Moriarty.
Now the play comes to San Diego, CA's Old Globe Theatre -- and Whitehead with it. Mask begins tonight, Sept. 14, with an opening set for Sept. 20 and a run through Oct. 25.
Directed by Nicholas Martin, Leonard's spoofy look at the Holmes/Dr. Watson mystique co-stars Tom Lacy, who appeared at the Globe in 1995's Overtime (a role he repeated Off-Broadway). Both Whitehead and Lacy are associate artists of the Old Globe. Leonard's previous plays include 1973's Da and 1986's one-act trilogy, Pizzazz.
From 1967-77, Whitehead served as artistic director of Canada's Shaw Festival. His Broadway roles include Habeas Corpus, The Affair and Run For Your Wife.
Also behind the Old Globe mask are Amy Chaffee, Paul Fitzgerald, Julian Gamble, Susan Knight, David Pittu, Henny Russell, John Seidman, Jon Patrick Walker and Amelia White. Designing the show are James Joy (set), Michael Krass (costumes), Jeff Davis (lighting), and Jeff Ladman (sound). Claudia Hill serves as vocal coach. New Jersey theatregoers will also get to see The Mask Of Moriarty; the show will travel to the Paper Mill Playhouse, Jan. 9-Feb. 15, 1998.
[Still running on the Cassius Carter Stage, through Oct. 11, is Miracles, a play by Frank Higgins about an autistic girl who stuns everyone by writing a book. Benny Sato Ambush, who staged The Gate Of Heaven at the Old Globe, directs.]
For subscription passes and other information on the Old Globe, refer to the regional listing or call (619) 235-2250.
--By David Lefkowitz