Actors Guild outdoes itself for ‘The Game’s Afoot’ set design

The set of “The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays” that was designed by Technical Director Bartolo Cannizzaro of the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. Plenty of tickets remain available for the show, which will be staged 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the last two days of the production. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Many reasons there are to see “The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays” on Friday or Saturday at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg.

Not the least of which is the set designed by Technical Director Bartolo Cannizzaro, said Joe Reeves, assistant director of the play written by award-winner Ken Ludwig.

“The set itself would be a reason to go see the show,” said Reeves, who recently performed as the father in “A Christmas Story” and the shopkeeper in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Cannizzaro succeeded Rod Oden at the Guild and became technical director in 2017. He and his wife, Clare, established the Academy for Dance and Theatre Arts in New Martinsville.

“He really is one of the unsung heroes at the Actors Guild,” Reeves said.

“We did the best we could,” Cannizzaro said.

The play called for many art deco-style props, but those would be financially impractical for the Guild, Cannizzaro said.

“Art deco furniture is real expensive,” he said.

Subtleties in the set design add to its overall look and feel, according to Reeves. For example, the furniture is of the style in the period of the 1930s, which is not by chance, he said.

While the Guild has a substantial inventory of props collected over the years, Cannizzaro will attend various sales looking for pieces that can be used in a set, Reeves said.

“He scours local sales to find period furniture that matches the decor of the set,” he said.

More time can be spent on the details with a play like “The Game’s Afoot” as opposed to a musical where there could be different sets in the course of the production, Cannizzaro said. More time can be spent on the small details, he said.

“I enjoy doing the detail work,” he said.

For “The Game’s Afoot,” the predominant use of red was used by the costumer to complement the clothing selected, Reeves said. A secret room, the rotating bar in the wall, also adds to the elaborateness of the set.

“Every show I see, I am amazed that he did it,” Reeves said.

Even sets with few or no props are made to appear elaborate, such as the set design for “Aladdin Jr.” by the Guild Builders, the youth theater group of the Guild, Reeves said.

“It was absolutely gorgeous,” he said.

While for-profit theater companies have much larger budgets, the benefit for working for a non-profit community theater group is the people on stage or behind the scenes are there because they want to be, Cannizzaro said. They are not at the theater for a paycheck, he said.

It makes the job more enjoyable, Cannizzaro said.

“That’s always been a plus for me,” he said.

Of the productions for which he has been technical director, “This one is by far is my favorite,” Cannizzaro said of “The Game’s Afoot.” Second was “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Among the many reasons to see the show are many tickets remain for its last two days at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sales have picked up, but plenty of good seats remain, including Friday night, Reeves said.

“The Game’s Afoot” is about a Christmas-time party in December 1936 thrown by actor William Gillette, famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary fictional sleuth. An annoying theater columnist is killed at the party.

Danny Bayer portrays Gillette, Susan Courtney is his mother Martha Gillette, George Litman is Felix Geisel, Karen Smith is Madge Geisel, Seth Fearnow is Simon Bright, Kalina Jones is Aggie Wheeler, Barbara Full is Inspector Goring and Sara Rose Drake is Daria Chase. The show is directed by Dixie Showalter.