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Ken Ludwig World Premiere The Game's Afoot Delivers Thrills, Laughter

Posted November 7, 2011 in Press Releases

New Comedy-Mystery at CPH Makes for a Madcap Holiday “Whodunit”

November 25 – December 18, 2011
Opening Night: November 30, 2011
Calendar Editors: See Fact Sheet for Performance Schedule and Special Events

CLEVELAND, OH (November 7, 2011) – Cleveland Play House (CPH) is thrilled to present a world premiere by multi-Tony Award®-nominated playwright and winner of the Olivier and Helen Hayes Awards, Ken Ludwig. Directed by Aaron Posner, Ken Ludwig’sThe Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) will take audiences on a hilarious adventure filled with murder, mayhem and intrigue. The CPH production of Ken Ludwig’sThe Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) will begin in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare on Friday, November 25 and run through Sunday, December 18, 2011. Tickets are available at PlayhouseSquare ticket office by calling 216-241-6000 or online Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot is presented with support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome back one of the premier comic playwrights, Ken Ludwig,”states Michael Bloom, CPH Artistic Director. “His Leading Ladies was a great success in my very first season at CPH, and it’s a great privilege to premiere another of his plays, this time in the new Allen Theatre.”

"I'm thrilled to be working again with all my friends at Cleveland Play House, and it's particularly a treat to have The Game's Afoot premiere on the stage of the new Allen Theatre,” says playwright Ken Ludwig. “I have fond memories of working on Leading Ladies here in Cleveland, and I value the dedication and professionalism of the Cleveland Play House leadership and staff, as well as the joy they bring to the Cleveland community."


In this Ken Ludwig world premiere we meet famed stage actor William Gillette at his Connecticut castle, recovering from an attempt on his life following a performance of his renowned play, Sherlock Holmes. It’s Christmas Eve, and much to his mother Martha’s chagrin, William invites fellow actors, Aggie & Simon and Felix & Madge, over for the holiday weekend. His elaborate home, filled with gadgets and hidden passageways, becomes the setting for a murder, and Gillette must use the Sherlock Holmes crime-solving skills he made famous on stage to catch the culprit. Will Gillette uncover the secrets his guests are hiding? Will he discover who the murderer is before he/she claims another victim? Will his guests ever be able to drink eggnog again?

The real-life William Gillette was a star of the American stage during the early part of the 20th century. Gillette wrote the play Sherlock Holmes in collaboration with Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he starred in it with enormous success in both New York and London for over 30 years. With his royalties from this and other plays, he built a replica of a medieval castle on the Connecticut River, and there he frequently entertained the casts of his latest New York hit. This elaborate house was filled with gadgets representing the latest technology, which Gillette reportedly reveled in. The house is open to the public to this day.

Ludwig was inspired to write a comedy thriller after a family vacation in London. Taking his children to see all the highlights of this historic region, Ludwig was astonished that it was a performance of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre that stood out as their favorite activity of the 6-week trip. Inspired by his children’s enthusiasm for TheMousetrap, Ludwig wrote The Game’s Afoot (or Holmes for the Holiday).


The Game’s Afoot brings together a cast of veteran actors. William Gillette is played byDonald Sage Mackay, who has appeared at regional theatres throughout the U.S. including The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse and San Jose Rep. Recent film and television credits include Transformers 2, Mad Men, House, Weeds, andNCIS. Playing Gillette’s mother, Martha, is Patricia Kilgarriff, who last appeared at Cleveland Play House in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1998. Her Broadway credits include Night Must Fall and A Small Family Business. At Manhattan Theatre Club, Kilgarriff was featured in Time and Again, Kindertransport and The Art of Success. Other off-Broadway work includes Beckett/Albee, Spread Eagle, London Suite, All’s Well That Ends Well, Counting the Ways, and Footfalls.

Rounding out the cast is Eric Hassom (Felix Geisel) who recently concluded the national tour of The 39 Steps. Other recent credits include August: Osage County at Arden Theatre Company and The Vibrator Play at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and at Folger Shakespeare Theatre in the world premiere of Cyrano, the new translation/adaptation by Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner; Lise Bruneau (Madge Geisel) most recently performed in Legacy of Light at Arena Stage, My Name is Asher Lev at Round House and Delaware Theatre Company, and in An Ideal Husband, Ion, Othello and The Winter's Taleat Shakespeare Theatre Company; Rob McClure (Simon Bright), a three-time Barrymore Award-winning artist who starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q, andI’m Not Rappaport alongside Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen. He will soon reprise his Craig Noel Award-winning performance as Charlie Chaplin in Becoming Chaplin which is expected to arrive on Broadway next year after a successful run at La Jolla Playhouse;Mattie Hawkinson (Aggie Wheeler) has performed in regional theatres across the country, including Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Baltimore CENTERSTAGE, Denver Center Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Indiana Repertory Theatre;Sarah Day (Inspector Goring) has been a part of the acting company of American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin since 1986, and is currently a member of their Core Company; Erika Rolfsrud (Daria Chase) appeared on Broadway in The Coast of Utopia,Exit the King and Rabbit Hole. Off-Broadway credits include Electra in a One-Piece, Dally with the Devil, Misalliance, The Cocktail Party, The Glory of Living, How I Learned to Drive,Love's Fire, Trout Stanley, and O, Pioneers!

For a complete list of cast bios, go online at

THE GAME’S AFOOT Creative Team Bios:

Aaron Posner (Director) is a Helen Hayes and Barrymore Award-winning director and adaptor of literature. He is founder and former artistic director of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre and has directed at major regional theatres from coast to coast including Folger Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, The Milwaukee Rep, California Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Round House Theatre, Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, Theater J, American Players Theatre and many more. His adaptations include Chaim Potok's The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev (both of which have enjoyed successful runs at Cleveland Play House as well as at more than 50 other theatres across the country), Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, Mark Twain's A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage and many others. Posner was raised in Eugene, Oregon, attended Northwestern University, is an Eisenhower Fellow and now lives near Washington, DC.

Ken Ludwig (Playwright) is an internationally acclaimed playwright whose many hits on Broadway, in London's West End and throughout the world have made his name synonymous with modern comedy. He has had six shows on Broadway and six in the West End, and he has won the Laurence Olivier Award, England’s highest theatre honor, as well as three Tony Award nominations and two Helen Hayes Awards. His work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been performed in thirty countries in twenty languages. His musical Crazy for You ran for over four years on Broadway and in London. After a hit revival at The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park this summer, Crazy for You transferred to the West End for an open-ended run. Lend Me a Tenor, originally produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and recently revived on Broadway with an all-star cast, was called, “one of the two great farces by a living writer” by The New York Times. Other plays and musicals include Moon Over Buffalo (Broadway and London’s Old Vic, starring Carol Burnett, Lynn Redgrave, Joan Collins & Frank Langella); Twentieth Century (Broadway, starring Alec Baldwin & Anne Heche); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Broadway); Treasure Island (London, Theatre Royal, Haymarket; 2009 AATE Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation); Shakespeare in Hollywood (commissioned by The Royal Shakespeare Company, Helen Hayes Award as Best Play); Leading Ladies; Be My Baby (starring Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter); The Beaux' Stratagem (adaptation with Thornton Wilder at the request of the Wilder Estate); The Three Musketeers (Bristol Old Vic); An American in Paris; Sullivan & Gilbert; The Fox on the Fairway; Midsummer/Jersey, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.His first children’s play ’Twas the Night before Christmas, opens this holiday season at The Adventure Theatre. His work has appeared in The Yale Review, and he has just completed a book for Crown Publishing entitled How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. He studied music at Harvard with Leonard Bernstein and theatre history at Cambridge University in England.

The design team for The Games Afoot includes Daniel Conway (Scenic Design), Thom Weaver (Lighting Design), Linda Roethke (Costume Design), James C. Swonger (Sound Design). Also on the team: stage manager Shannon Habenicht. For a complete list of design team bios, go online at

Ticket Information

Single tickets are on sale now; prices range from $49 to $69. Tickets are $15 for allstudents under the age of 25. For single tickets, please contact the PlayhouseSquare ticket office at 216-241-6000 or online at Groups of 10+save up to 50% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027 or email

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. More than 11 million people have attended over 1,100 productions at Cleveland Play House – including more than 100 American and/or World Premieres. Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Bloom and Managing Director Kevin Moore, Cleveland Play House is an artist-driven theatre that serves the community by holding true to its mission: To inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards.

Cleveland Play House is funded through the generosity of Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and The Ohio Arts Council helps to fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

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