By: Matthew Donovan
The USM Theatre department is letting the audience decide “whodunit” with the premiere of the Tony Award-winning murder mystery musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is shaping to be a musical that narrows the distance between audience and player interaction, where the ending of the story is entirely up to its viewers.
Over the next two weeks, USM students will be taking to the stage in this interesting take on Charles Dickens’s unfinished, final novel, in an event that can only be described as metatheatrical in nature.
“It is shrouded in love, tragedy, murder, mystery and comedy, but how these are implemented in the show are up to you––the viewer,” said Wil Kilroy, professor of theater and director of the play.
The setting of The Mystery of Edwin Drood helps illustrate that the show is essentially a play within a play. The show is set in the Music Hall Royale, home of a quirky acting troupe, that has decided to undertake their rendition of Dickens’s incomplete work. The rendition itself involves many flamboyant characters. For example, John Jasper, a somewhat bipolar choirmaster and uncle of Edwin Drood, is one of many to have fallen for Miss Bud, a music student. But the problem is, Miss Bud is engaged to Edwin Drood. In a surprising turn of events, Edwin disappears one cold Christmas Eve. What happened? Who is to blame? The ambiguity of it all makes for a spine shivering melodrama, taking place within a stylized vision of the Victorian era.
USM musical theater major and senior Emily Davis takes her place in the cast as the title character, or so it seems. She actually plays Alice Nutting, a famous male impersonator, who portrays Edwin Drood. Davis is essentially an actor, playing an actor, playing a character.
“I have never had to portray a boy. It’s been very fun though. This show is the most unique show I have ever been a part of, and it is unlike anything I’ve ever done,” said Davis.
Carolyn Glaude, senior and musical theater major, plays the role of the beautiful Miss Bud and is more then excited to be a part of this production.
“This is the most prepared I’ve ever been for a play, this is my dream role,” said Glaude. “Even the actors don’t know how the production ends each night, so it’s all up to the audiences opinions, you’re the one’s that are going to decide.”
Caleb Lacy, a senior theater major at USM, plays the role of the chairman, the sort of mediator for the production, who bridges the gap between the audience and the stage.
“Since the audience votes for the outcome, each ending can and will be different. So I highly encourage people to come multiple times to see the differences,” Lacy said.
Lacy praised the show and encouraged the community to come out to see it because it’s rarely performed and hard to catch in theaters.
“It’s a one of a kind experience,” said Lacy.
“People will enjoy coming inside, laughing, being entertained and escaping this long winter,” said Kilroy.
The performances of The Mystery of Edwin Drood will show at Russell Hall in Gorham, with the first three performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. and matinees at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The Mystery of Edwin Drood will continue showings throughout the following week as well.
For more information about the showtimes and ticket pricing visit the USM Theatre Department website. They’ve also got the entire list of the cast and people involved.