Radio Theater Company Honors Famous Playwright Tryon – The Tryon Daily Bulletin
William Gillette (1800-1933), one of Tryon’s most famous former residents, was honored with a tribute during a recent Pinnacle Falls Old Time Radio Theater production.
He was the famous actor and playwright who brought Sherlock Holmes to life in his play, “Sherlock Holmes”, which opened on Broadway in 1899. Gillette wrote the play in Thousand Pines, his 900-acre estate above Above Tryon, together with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author and creator of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
One such story, “The Musgrave Ritual”, was adapted for radio and directed by North Carolina playwright Ceille Baird Welch.
Gillette got off the train at Tryon in 1891 when it stopped to add another engine for the Saluda Grade climb. He took a walk up the mountain and fell in love with the area and built a cabin from which he could see the mountain ranges.
For 50 years he was a major star on Broadway and in theaters around the world, and his play, “Sherlock Holmes,” grossed $1.5 million in box office ticket sales.
The first performance, starring Ralph Johns as Sherlock, was staged at Bill Amick Lodge in Pinnacle Falls, a gated community in Zirconia, North Carolina. Johns practiced medicine in Spartaburg for many years.
The other cast in the radio drama were all homeowners at Pinnacle Falls and included Linda Brett, a retired U.S. Forest Service executive from Washington, DC; Gayden Gauthier, financial planner from Maryland; Grady Nance, former Detroit Edison executive in Michigan; Jennifer Stickney, former Chicago pharmacist; Mike Ebanks, former Chicago architect, provided sound effects; and Kathleen Nance, a pharmacist from Michigan and Louisiana who made musical bridges and stingers.
The production is scheduled to perform in February in Columbia, South Carolina at a meeting of Hansom Wheels, a Scion Society of Baker Street Irregulars.