They Deserve a Win: Broadway vets Stephanie J. Block and Will Chase are devilishly entertaining in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’

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

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

The magic of The Mystery of Edwin Drood didn’t resonate with me until I left the theatre. I will confess that I bought a ticket to support two of my favorite performers, Stephanie J. Block and Will Chase, and knew little about the show other than their performances received rave reviews. However, once I left the theatre and had a few days to fully digest the performances I saw at Studio 54, I was able to fully appreciate this cheeky and hilarious musical.

The brassy, dark comedy revival moved so quickly and seamlessly that I was completely captivated during the performance, I was taken from the theatre and into a graveyard, an opium den and into a show filled with the most delicious madness I have ever had the joy to experience. For anyone who plunged into insanity with these colorful characters, it does not come as a surprise that Block has been nominated for her Tony for her performance in the category of Leading Actress in a Musical and Chase received recognition as Featured Actor in a Musical. Drood also received a nomination for Best Revival of a Musical.

Just a few hours after the Meet the Nominees event on May 1, during which I couldn’t help myself but to compliment and praise Block for her nomination and lovely outfit choice (though I was rendered speechless when I tried to say the same for Chase who was standing happily at her side), I went to see off-Broadway revival of The Last Five Years which starred Drood’s lovely Betsy Wolfe who played Rosa Bud in the production.

At the stage door I told her about seeing Block and Chase’s excitement with being present for the event (their huge smiles and wide-eyed delight spoke more than words could have) and I told Wolfe that she should have been with them for the event as a nominee for Featured Actress in a Musical. After politely thanking me, she said something that has stayed with me and has since become my mantra about this priceless show.

“I’m very proud of our little show,” Wolfe said with a sparkling smile. At the moment I thought it was a cute comment but later I ended up thinking back on it, and even still the phrase “our little show”, stays in my mind with Drood because it has always been an underdog and a show that becomes as much about the audience as the performers on stage.

Chase’s character, John Jasper, is captivating as the audience watches his downward spiral into complete madness as he wishes his nephew, Block’s Drood, dead and pined for the innocent and lovely Rosa Bud, originally played by Wolfe. Chase’s other character Clive Paget, the actor within the show perorming as Jasper, is narcissistic, despicable but somehow magnetic. To counter the dark humor and devilish Jasper, Block was the humor of the production. As a woman playing a woman playing a man, Block’s Alice Nutting was dramatic and insistent while Drood was a classic gentleman, someone who was easily likable and when the unfortunate plot twisted to the mystery of Drood’s disappearance, and presumed death, the audience sat on the edge of their seat happily participating in creating the show’s end.

It has been said by many that Block and Chase are the underdogs of their respective categories but with a “little show” like Drood, it could be expected. However, that isn’t to lessen the accomplishment of making the revival one of the most delightful theatre experiences of the year.

Months later I am still listening to the cast recording which never becomes stale and my memory of Block and Chase’s performances are still fresh in my mind, as captivating as they were when I sat in the audience, hypnotized by their every movement. The Tony Award should be given based on a performance and not an entire career but with a combined 25 years on Broadway (Block made her debut in 2003 and Chase made his in 1998), these two seasoned performers are long overdue to be recognized and Drood, which was filled with so much heart and humor, would be an appropriate production for these first-time nominees to become first-time Tony winners.

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald

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