The Classic Victorian Melodrama
A Play in Four Acts
by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
All the intrigue and suspense of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective stories comes to life in this timeless theatrical adaptation. Originally produced on Broadway in 1899, Sherlock Holmes battles his archenemy Moriarty while he tries to defeat a notorious blackmail plot. Hailed by the press at the time as “thrilling,” the play was an enormous success here and abroad. Playwright William Gillette is credited with giving Holmes his trademark curved pipe and his deerstalker cap as well as inventing the line “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Theatre Arts Press is proud to present this new edition of the classic Victorian melodrama.
After writing his own play based on his famous character, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle presented it to the Broadway theatrical producer Charles Frohman. Frohman believed the play needed work and suggested that the actor-playwright William Gillette, who was the most popular thespian at the time, could make the play into a success. Gillette threw out much of what Doyle had written and created a new play based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. It was Gillette that added a love interest for Holmes.
The play opened on Broadway November 6, 1899 and immediately became the hit that Frohman had envisioned. It ran for an impressive 260 performances. Gillette then toured the country before taking the play to London in 1901 where it again had an impressive run. Gillette would continue to tour the play in America until 1915 and even starred in a silent film version.