The ‘Mystery’ comes to an end as ‘Edwin Drood’ leaves Studio 54


The company of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Edwin Drood is going out with a bang.

The Roundabout Theatre Company revival closes today, almost four months after opening on November 13, 2012.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is not just an ordinary night at the theatre—it’s the most entertaining and gut-busting night a person could ask for in a currently running Broadway show. With book, music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes,  Drood is everything good theatre should be: fun, hilarious, engaging and it breaks the fourth wall in such a way that the audience actually plays an active role in deciding how the show ends.

Based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel, Drood follows a “play-within-a-play” format; the members of the talented ensemble play both actors and the characters their actors are portraying. For example, Will Chase portrayed both Clive Paget (the actor) as well as John Jasper, Edwin Drood’s uncle. Drood, a male role traditionally played by a female, was brought to life by Stephanie J. Block, who stood out both vocally and in her vibrant acting choices. Other notable mentions include Broadway veterans Gregg Edelman and the incomparable Chita Rivera, who had the audience in the palm of her hand from the moment she stepped on stage for “The Wages of Sin.” The show would not be complete with out the comedic and masterful portrayal of the Chairman by Jim Norton, who sang and danced with as much energy and charisma as the youngest members of the company.

Dickens’ original story was never finished because he died before revealing the identity of the killer. Therefore, each night, the audience decided which character was behind the murder. The audience participation was one of the reasons Drood quickly became a fan-favorite on Broadway. No matter how many times you saw it, the show was always new and exciting.

Will Chase and Stephanie J. Block in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Will Chase and Stephanie J. Block in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

In the performance I attended, I suspected that Jasper would be chosen as the culprit; however, the majority of the audience voted for Rosa Bud, played by the very comedic Erin Davie. Without missing a beat, the actors had to adapt the rest of their performance to the audience’s decision and finish the show. This was the only musical running on Broadway that utilized this convention and ticket prices were worth every penny just to watch the story play out. For fans of Stephanie J. Block, the finale number also allowed her to live in high-note-heaven and show the audience what she could really do.

Though mildly confusing, Drood was pure fun. I laughed myself silly and found great enjoyment in the moment-to-moment humor delivered by the stellar cast. Combined with stunning set pieces and gorgeous costumes that made every actor ‘pop’ on stage, the musical numbers were utterly fantastic. “Both Sides of the Coin,” a patter-y romp performed by Will Chase and Jim Norton, made Thorough Modern Millie’s “Speed Test” look like child’s play and brought the house down. Anytime Chita or Stephanie J. delivered a solo line, I felt myself leaning forward with the rest of the audience to soak the moment up. But the show truly wouldn’t be what it was without the efforts of every single cast member. There was not a weak link in the production and the meticulous specificity of director Scott Ellis certainly paid off.

I cannot remember the words to most of the songs from this show, nor can I explain exactly what I saw during my Drood experience, but I will never forget how much fun I had watching it.

It’s a show I wish I could go back and see again and again. As I was leaving Studio 54, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it was better that Mr. Dickens didn’t come up with an ending to the story; if he hadn’t left the story without revealing the identity of the killer, this truly unique piece of theatre that’s likely to receive a few nominations come Tony Award season wouldn’t be such a well-loved comic masterpiece.

To celebrate the end of this hilarious and fun show, is hosting a giveaway for an autographed playbill signed by the cast including Stephanie J. Block, Will Chase, Gregg Edelman and others! For more information, follow the link

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2 Responses

  1. I had so much fun at this show! Will Chase was superb and Stephanie J. Block is always amazing. I’m happy I was able to catch it when Betsy Wolfe was still in it too.