Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Turtle Lane Playhouse is "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", the rollicking musical-mystery by Rupert Holmes based on Charles Dickens unfinished novel. Dickens suffered a fatal stroke on June 8, 1870 and died the next day after finishing Chapter 22 of this novel. The show opened on Broadway on December 2, 1985 and ran for 603 performances, winning 3 Tony Awards for Rupert Holmes. This show will remind you of "My Fair Lady'', "Sweeney Todd" and ''Phantom of the Opera" with its score. In Holmes' version the audience decides the ending to the show, who killed Drood or is he really dead? "Drood" is a play within a play about an acting troupe from the Music Hall Royale. The darker side of the plot involves the "disappearance'' of a young architect, Edwin Drood after a Christmas Eve night of festivities. The energetic and talented cast under the direction of Russell Greene, the music direction of Wayne Ward and choreography by Jennifer Condon, give their audiences a topnotch Broadway show, earning thunderous and appreciative applause at the close of the show.

Leading these talented performers is Andrew McKay as the Chairman. His dynamic performance grabs you from start to finish as he narrates each scene of the show, delivering a massive amount of dialogue while performing in many of them. Andrew's powerful voice rings out in the opening "There You Are", the patter song called "Both Sides of the Coin" with John Jasper and the cast doing an energetic dance during it and the closing dance number of Act 1, "Off to the Races'' with Durdles, Deputy and the whole company. He reels the audience into the Music Hall type of show, winking, waving his hand and tipping his hat with a gleeful abandon. Playing Edwin Drood and the actress who portrays him is Sarah Cosentino. While disguised as a man, she delivers many songs including a touching ballad called "Perfect Strangers'' and the confrontation number at the Christmas Eve party called "No Good Can Come from Bad". Sarah's most impressive and powerful number is "The Writing on the Wall'', where she makes a revelation to everyone. Playing Drood's lady love, Rosa Bud is Kaja Schuppert, a gorgeous blonde with a glorious soprano voice which soars off the charts in "Moonfall" and "In The Name of Love". She does an excellent job as the sweet young ingenue who's deceased father and Drood's deceased father promised to each other years ago. The sinister, smarmy voice teacher who is Drood's uncle, John Jasper, played to the hilt by James Fitzpatrick, has designs on the lovely Rosa Bud. He oozes charm trying to capture Rosa's heart while he takes his opium mixed in wine at Princess Puffer's Opium Den. James' powerful voice is heard in many numbers including "A Man Could Be Mad", "The Name of Love" and "Moonfall". His most impressive number is "Jasper's Confession" where his voice fills the theatre with its power.

A Dickens novel contained many characters and this show is no different. Playing the opium den owner, Princess Patricia Puffer is Kate de Lima. She makes this sexy big bosomed broad a hoot with her songs "The Wages of Sin" and "The Garden Path to Hell". The bowlegged cemetary keeper, Durdles is played by basso profundo, Patrick Scheider while his young son, Deputy is played by David Lucey, a junior at Northeastern University. The town minister, Crisparkle is played by Stephen Peters, who defends two foreigners called Helena and Neville Landless, played by Leah Fine and Bill Stambaugh. Leah and Bill sing the lead in a song called "I'm a British Subject" while the others sing that even so they aren't from England. (They both get to wear exotic costumes in both acts.) A scene stealer in this show is Ronny Pompeo Jr. as Bazzard, the unfortunate person who never gets picked to play a role in this show. His song called "Never the Luck" is hilarious and it led him to be voted to play a role in the second act and sing a song called "Out on a Limerick'' to explain why he wants to find the killer. There are many twists and turns in the show that I can't give away in this review. Kudos to everyone who made this show a success. So for everyone who wants to see how Dickens last novel should have ended be sure to catch this show before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" ( 14 September - 14 October)
TURTLE LANE PLAYHOUSE
283 Melrose Street, Newton, MA
1 (617) 244-0169

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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