The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Whodunit?

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By: Sandi Durell

The 1985 revival seems to have taken on a bawdy in-your-face conceit as the characters work hard in this zany unfinished work by Charles Dickens, eventually concluded (book, music and lyrics) by Rupert Holmes. The play within a play, set in a Victorian music hall 1895, has the music hall troupe enacting the characters as the Chairman/Cartwright (Jim Norton) – the fun-loving charismatic M.C. engages the audience.

The famous Drood is the winning Stephanie J. Block, dressed as the gentleman, and it’s all tongue-in-cheek, hide and go seek as the plot unfolds with the audience’s help.

The cast is A1 including the always delightful Chita Rivera (The Princess Puffer and Madame of an opium den); John Jasper (Will Chase) as the cunning, leering, lecher who lusts after Rosa Bud (Betsy Wolfe), the coy lovely soprano engaged to Drood.

There’s ditsy Reverend Mr. Crisparkle (Gregg Edelman); Ceylon brother/sister – Neville Landless (Andy Karl) and Helena Landless (Jessie Mueller) both in dark makeup, as darting eyes give off exotic looks; Robert Creighton plays Durdles, the indecorous gravestone maker.

They sing and prance in William Ivey Long’s colorful period costumes, with big bustles, in Anna Louizos delicious scenery of old London in some outstanding opera-like musical numbers: “The Wages of Sin;” the list song “Both Sides of the Coin” and “Don’t Quit While You’re Ahead.” Warren Carlyle has choreographed to Paul Gemignani’s musical direction and kudos to Scott Ellis in keeping this campy Roundabout Theatre production at Studio 54 as alive as ever.

Now you decide whodunit!

The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.; 212-719-1300; 2 hrs. 35 minutes www.roundabouttheatre.org

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