The literary genius of writer Charles Dickens is acknowledged internationally, even more than 200 years after his birth in England. At his death at the age of 58, he spent his last days on earth continuing to pen, but never completing, his last work “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Like so many of his earlier works, it concerned itself with the fate of orphans. Dickens had always written of children abandoned by poverty, disease and illiteracy like Pip in ”Great Expectations,” David in “David Copperfield,” and Oliver in “Oliver Twist.”
You have the unique opportunity to help the Connecticut Repertory Theatre in its delightful rendition of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” set in a rousing Victorian music hall, at the Jorgensen Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut until Sunday, March 10. For added pleasure, you, the audience, get to vote on who committed the murder and a few other important decisions to end the play.
The orphan Rosa Bud (a lovely Graceann Brooks) has been betrothed since birth to orphan Edwin Drood (portrayed by female impersonator Emily Ferranti).
Rosa is also the object of affection for Edwin’s uncle John Jasper (the villain of the piece Bryan Mittelstadt) choirmaster and opium addict and newcomers from Ceylon Neville Landless ( a tempestuous admirer Mauricio Miranda) and his twin sister Helena (Rosa’s new friend Rebekah Santiago).The pair are under the protection of the Rev Crisparkle (an accommodating Nikolai Fernandez).
Also figuring in the plot are the Princess Puffer (the concerned proprietress of the opium den Kelly Lester), Durdles (the keeper of the crypt Rob Barnes), Durdles’ assistant Deputy (a good follower Matt Bader), Bazzard (an ambitious actor Sebastian Nagpal) and the jovial master of ceremonies at the music hall (the highly entertaining Kurt Zischke).
Clues and red herrings are woven through this period piece, on a multitude of scenes created by Alexander Woodward, with bouncy and melancholy music directed by Alex Thompson, with elaborate costuming by Brittny Mahan, lively choreography by Rebekah Santiago, under the gifted direction of Paul Mullins.
For tickets ($36-40), call the CT Rep, at UCONN, at 860-486-2113 or online at crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
With musical messages like “Press Your Luck” and “Don’t Quit While You’re Ahead,” let this troupe of talented actors help you solve and resolve “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Cheerio, Tally Ho, and all that stuff!