A howl echoes across the moor, and the lord of the manor falls dead -- murdered. Whom to call? Only the greatest detective of all time -- Sherlock Holmes. Thus begins "The Hound of the Baskervilles," one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, adapted for the stage by Tim Kelly and brought to life last weekend by the Osbourn Park Players.

The tale concerns the search for the murderer of Sir Charles Baskerville. The plot thickens with the revelation of a family curse -- a humongous hellhound bent on destroying the lineage, with heir Sir Henry Baskerville to be its next victim. Like most of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the suspense is tremendous and the ending has a huge twist. The Osbourn Park cast more than did it justice.

Andrew Ling filled the shoes of the main character perfectly, portraying Holmes's impressive intellect and stoic demeanor elegantly. He was at his best in his interactions with the far-from-elementary Dr. Watson, played with superb nuance by Marc Davis. Davis not only added patches of humor to this dark mystery but also showed immense concentration on his character, performing detailed actions and injecting a subtle element of deep friendship into his relationship with Ling. Katie Bojarczuk, as the maid Perkins, added electric energy and comic interactions.

Jennie Ling, as Laura Lyons, showed great emotional range and presented a clearly defined character. Katie Rockwell, as Kathy Stapleton, switched from bright and bubbly to strikingly sinister for her unveiling as the femme fatale.

As a whole, the cast managed to convey a strong mood of suspicion and anxiety as the mystery slowly unraveled, and never let on to the surprise ending. In keeping with the mood, the pacing was deliberate, sometimes too much so, dragging the energy down. However, the slower pacing served to draw out the mystery and never became boring.

Technically, the show was a jewel, with a dazzling set resplendent with detail and perfect props by Cassie Bisconti. Costumes, by Molly McChrystal and Tamsen Sapp, were excellently done, reflecting period and character. Jon Obertubessing and Madeline Woods certainly reflected the mood and the location with their low-key lighting. Sound effects served to enhance the mystery and the setting, with no noticeably missed cues.

It seems talent and genius are not reserved for Sherlock Holmes alone.

There's no mystery here -- "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was a hit!

Lauryn McCarter

Herndon High School

The time: the 1920s. The place: Baskerville Hall. The question: Who is out to get Sir Henry, heir to the Baskerville fortune? It is a mystery only Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson can solve, in Osbourn Park's performance of "Hound of the Baskervilles." This play was adapted by Tim Kelly from the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

After the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, Holmes and Watson are invited to the Baskerville estate by Lady Agatha Mortimer (Liz Leeper), who suspects that Sir Charles's death was the result of foul play. The heir to the Baskerville fortune is Sir Henry (Josh Petersen), who, after his arrival, becomes the target of the Baskerville curse, a supernatural hound that lurks on the moor. Meanwhile, everyone is a suspect, from Perkins (Katie Bojarczuk), the obedient maid, to Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore (Jason Rogers and Laura Lilley), the longtime and faithful Baskerville servants.

Andrew Ling gave a witty performance as Sherlock Holmes, with a flawless British accent and pondering attitude. Watson was portrayed in an inquiring yet quirky way by Marc Davis, who also maintained a convincing British accent. Although strong performers individually, Ling and Davis were at their best when together on stage. Both actors fed off each other's energy, constructing a nice stage chemistry out of very opposite personalities.

Katie Rockwell was the seemingly sweet and innocent Kathy Stapleton. She gave a convincing performance as the wholesome love interest of Sir Henry and as the crafty and sinister con artist she was finally revealed to be. Petersen's body language and facial expressions conveyed the uneasiness Sir Henry feels throughout the story.

The Osbourn Park theater class did an outstanding job on the extremely detailed set. A sitting room of Baskerville Hall, it looked impeccably professional, with a large traditional bookcase, dozens of early 20th-century-style antiques, and the typically mysterious picture over the fireplace.

Kelsey Steven's sound effects gave a chilling nature to each scene, such as the hound howling, gunshots and loud screams. Jon Obertubessing, Madeline Woods and Ella Rose ran the lights in perfect timing with the actors, especially on the abrupt blackouts at the end of each scene.

All in all, the talented 10-person cast pulled off one of the greatest Sherlock Holmes mysteries with great poise.

Chelse Greaux

Manassas Park High School