Theatre Mirror Reviews - 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Carl A. Rossi


a musical by Rupert Holmes,
directed by Paul Daigneault
choreographed by David Connolly
music supervision by Paul S. Katz
musical direction by Dan Rodriguez

Mr. William Cartwright, Your Chairman … Will McGarrahan
Mr. James Throttle, Stage Manager … Bryce Chaddick
John Jasper / Mr. Clive Paget … Michael Mendiola
Edwin Drood / Miss Alice Nutting … Leigh Barrett
Rosa Bud / Miss Deirdre Peregrine … Erin Tchoukaleff
Alice / Miss Isabel Yearsley … Alisa Walker
Beatrice / Miss Florence Gill … Ellen Peterson
Helena Landless / Miss Janet Conover … Carly Sakolove
Neville Landless / Mr. Victor Grinstead … Brendan McNab
The Reverend Mr. Crisparkle / Mr. Cedric Moncrieff … Dale Place
Durdles / Mr. Nick Cricker … David Krinitt
Deputy / Master Nick Cricker … Curly Glynn
The Princess Puffer / Miss Angela Prysock … Kerry A. Dowling
Horace / Mr. Nicholas Michael … Jeff Mahoney
Bazzard / Mr. Philip Bax … Edward M. Barker
Dick Datchery … ???????


Conductor; Keyboard … Dan Rodriguez
Violin … Jeanie Lee or Leonardo Ottoni
Reeds … Louis Toth
Horn … Meredith Gangler
Bass … John Styklunas
Percussion … Andrew Benson

Move over, Scrooges, everywhere: over at Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage, Rupert Holmes’ musical THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, based on Charles Dickens’ uncompleted novel, is equally grand holiday fun. The Dickensian plot is set in a sleepy English village where Edwin Drood is betrothed to the fair Rosa Bud; Edwin’s disappearance on a dark and stormy night leads to accusations of murder, the prime suspects being two rivals for Rosa’s hand: Edwin’s uncle John Jasper, addicted to opium, and the hot-tempered Neville Landless --- just as things start to quicken and dovetail, Mr. Dickens up and died and THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD has tantalized armchair detectives ever since. Rupert Holmes, best known for his Top 40 hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, opts for a mock penny-dreadful with a Crummles-like troupe acting out the tale in music-hall style. Apart from blending the character of the Reverend Mr. Crisparkle with the characteristics of Rosa’s legal guardian Mr. Grewgious and transforming Neville’s sister Helena into a sultan’s dream, Mr. Holmes faithfully skims through and sums up the novel’s complexities and his score is serviceable but agreeable. Where Mr. Dickens stops, Mr. Holmes continues and lets the audience vote on which characters are (1) the mysterious Dick Datchery, a supposed sleuth, and (2) Edwin’s murderer --- the choices made on the night I attended made perfect sense and I’ll assume that Mr. Holmes has six alternate endings up his sleeve with similar satisfactions.

Shuttling between SpeakEasy and Boston Conservatory productions, the team of Paul Daigneault and David Connolly can seemingly do no wrong in bringing out the best in Boston’s musical talent; their DROOD ensemble catches the correct blend of period barnstorming and winking tongue-in-cheek, and Gail Astrid Buckley’s costumes, Jenna McFarland Lord’s quick-change settings and Scott Clyve’s garish lighting are lessons in Victorian theatre history, alone. The now-familiar personas of Will McGarrahan, Leigh Barrett, Dale Place and Brendan McNab have never been more robust but the real standouts are those allowed to stretch some muscles: Erin Tchoukaleff, often in bit parts, takes a few steps closer to becoming a leading ingénue (though she must stop playing them as out-and-out ninnies); Kerry A. Dowling unleashes a powerful mezzo-soprano as the Princess Puffer; and two previously likeable fellows, David Krinitt and Michael Mendiola channel their energy into character roles: Mr. Krinitt is deliciously rank as Durdles and Mr. Mendiola contributes a John Jasper of such saturnine repression that the late Sir Henry Irving might have paused in his steps, en route to Mephistopheles; in Ms. Dowling's and the Messrs. Krinitt and Mendiola’s hands, nineteenth century melodrama with all its hackneyed passions, makes perfect sense…

'The Mystery of Edwin Drood' (18 November-15 December)
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide