In the Alley Theatre’s new Sherlock Holmes play, literature’s most famous cocaine addict announces his triumphant rehabilitation: “If you’re looking for the needle, don’t bother,” Holmes declares early on. “I am no longer at the mercy of the seven percent solution.” But when asked whether Holmes has truly kicked the habit, Todd Waite, the longtime Alley company actor who is playing Holmes for the third time in ten years, reveals a sly, distinctly Sherlockian grin. “Possibly,” Waite says. “That’s what he tells Watson, at least.”
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club
May 29–June 23 (Previews start May 24)
Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave.
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When Artistic Director Gregory Boyd asked Todd Waite to don Holmes’s iconic deerstalker cap for this month’s Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, the actor might well have stalked off in a huff. “Not again,” you imagine him thinking. But according to Waite, he felt no such impulse. “Just the opposite—I was thrilled,” Waite says. “Every week someone comes up and says they bought tickets for the play because they saw me in the part ten years ago. I love that. But it also puts pressure on you not to sit on the laurels of the other plays.”
Sitting across from Waite, it’s easy to see why Boyd originally chose him for the role. Like Holmes, as described by Arthur Conan Doyle, Waite is tall and thin, with sharp features and piercing eyes.
Although he became an American citizen eight years ago Waite says his Canadian background and English heritage (all of his grandparents were born in Great Britain) help him with Holmes’s accent. Even so, the Alley has been known to hire a dialect coach; its patrons are sticklers for detail. “You’d be amazed at how attuned our audience is,” Waite says. “I’m sure I’ll hear about it if I make a mistake.”