Dickens is back. Even before Christmas! The Turtle Lane Playhouse is decked out like an English vaudeville house for the musical version of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, Dickens’ last and unfinished novel before his untimely death. Playing through October 14th, Turtle Lane’s buoyant version features Jim Fitzpatrick as an oily and obsessive choirmaster whose nephew and romantic rival, Edwin Drood (S. Consentino), disappears one dark and stormy night. What unfolds is a play within a play, a laugh out loud “whodunit” whose finale is written by the audience.
The fun of DROOD is how all the unusual suspects are rounded up to charmingly and convincingly vie for your vote in between acts, like some warped version of American Idol (but thankfully without the incessant twittering of Paula Abdul). A parade of colorful characters campaign for your allegiance even before the mayhem ensues: We meet an enthusiastic belly dancer (Leah Fine), a pristine bride to be (Kaja K. Schuppert), a superbly androgynous groom (Consentino) and a buxom madam of the friendly neighborhood opium den (Kate deLima).
Also deserving of mention are Patrick Schneider as the daft Durdles and Andrew McKay as the wry mayor of Cloisterham. There’s a lot of ham in this town…and some wickedly witty songs like “A Man Could Go Quite Mad” and “The Wages of Sin” (book, music, and lyrics by Rupert Holmes).
All in all, the Turtle Lane production is solid and director Russell R. Greene’s performers are engaging. If you like rambling British murder mysteries and participatory theater, then THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD will be your cuppa tea.