The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

The famed English author Charles Dickens inconveniently died in 1870 leaving his final novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” without an ending, thus making it a true mystery. What happens to the poor orphan Edwin Drood who is newly engaged to another orphan Rosa Bud and has grand plans to venture with her after marriage to the intriguing land of Egypt? The answers to these probing questions can all be answered to your complete satisfaction (as you get to decide whodunit by democratic vote) at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam by Sunday, May 2. Thanks to Rupert Holmes, the play is now a spritely and spirited musical performed by the Music Hall Royale Theater Company for your complete enjoyment and amusement. The fun begins when the colorful characters start up a lively conversation with you as they spring forth into the audience to say hello and cheerio before the curtain even rises.

Come make the charming acquaintance of Lenny Wolpe who serves as our narrator, master of ceremonies, chairman and major maestro of the Music Hall Royale who entertains and introduces the significant players and their often complicated roles. First we meet the choirmaster John Jasper (Paul Adam Schaefer) who is the music teacher for Rosa Bud (Riley Noland) and harbors an unnatural affection for her, perhaps due to his opium addiction. Rosa, meanwhile, has been promised in marriage to the adventuresome Edwin Drood (Mamie Parris, note her female name) and the two have lively disagreements in their courtship that had been arranged by their long dead fathers years before. Rosa also has caught the eye of Neville Landless (Levin Valayil), who is a twin to his sister Helena (Jetta Juriansz), from the exotic country of Ceylon, and have arrived in London under the guardianship of their mentor Reverend Crisparkle (Paul Slade Smith). Also figuring in the plot are Princess Puffer (Liz McCartney) who runs the opium den with a stern hand, Durdles (David Beach) who is frequently in his cups, his man Deputy (Marcus Montgomery) who guards him and Bazzard (Jamie LaVerdiere) is a clerk. Tunes like “Both Sides of the Coins,” “No Good Can Come From Bad,” “Off to the Races,” and “Don’t Quit While You’re Ahead” sparkle through the show.

On a lovely set designed by Ann Beyersdorfer, dressed fashionably by Hunter Kaczorowski, with delightful choreography by James Gray, enhanced by music directed by Adam Souza, and over all perfection by director Rob Ruggiero, we witness Christmas holiday celebrations and angry and sweet encounters by the citizenry until the moment Edwin Drood disappears. Who is responsible you might ask? And you have the power to decide by voting for the most likely culprit. The crowd of villains is mighty and long. Evaluate the clues carefully and eliminate the red herrings. The ending of this melodrama depends on you.

For tickets ($ 30-86, and check for special offers ), call Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main Street, East Haddam at 860- 873-8668 or online at Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Come play detective and get your deerstalker caps and magnifying glasses ready as you help catch a murderer and plan a wedding as this music hall mystery entertains upstairs and down and all around the town.