Sure, I'm biased. Theatre Northwest is the brainchild of my mom's fiancee, Brett Carr. My mom painted the set, and I know or have worked with virtually everyone on the new theatre company's staff.
But the other half of my bias is this: I like the theatre. It was a big part of my teenage existence, and I hate to see it fade away, as it has in much of Tacoma over the last couple years. And I know I'm not the only one. At the opening night gala I was mistaken for someone important (I was wearing a suit and a fancy hat), and an elderly woman thanked me for "bringing theatre back to Tacoma". A lot of people are excited to see a professional-caliber theatre company resident to Tacoma, and a lot of people who aren't yet should be.
But more than the principle of the thing, The Final Toast is just a good, entertaining, worthwhile show. Award-winning mystery author Stuart Kaminsky writes a different kind of Holmes than we often see performed, on stage or on the screen. He is neither smug and superior nor dry and academic. This is a detective who is not just scrounging for something to test his ample intelligence: he genuinely enjoys his work, and takes an almost giddy excitement in putting on disguises and outwitting opponents
This joyful Holmes comes through in both Kaminsky's writing and the performance of Brian Tyrrell. He is contrasted not against Watson, but against his brother Mycroft (played skillfully by Steve Manning), who in Holmes mythos is perhaps the superior deductionist, who turns his skills to political intrigue and repeatedly scolds Sherlock for "wasting" his gifts chasing murderers and blackmail schemes.
The show is not perfect by any stretch. On more than one occasion the lighting changes broke the illusion, which is exactly what lighting should not do. But it is still an excellent first run for a promising new company. That it played to sold-out houses the first weekend is a good sign that people are willing to embrace it. Last I checked, both nights this week were at about 80% capacity, so if you are thinking of going, get your tickets sooner rather than later.
Five shows remain: tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 PM, next Friday (Feb 27) at 7:30 PM, and Saturday (Feb 28) at 3:00 and 7:30. Tickets are $22-$34 and are available from the Broadway Center Website.