Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Production: The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Theater: Connecticut Repertory Theater
Music/Lyrics/Book: Rupert Holmes
Director: Paul Mullins
Well I be-jiggered, I be-dazzled, I be both Datcheried and be-Droodified – and the cause of these “Pre Fab Four Bees” you ask? The CRT’s current fabtabulous interactive production of Rupert Holmes’ Tony Award Winning Musical Production of Charles Dicken’s final incomplete novel- “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and it BE good – darn good!! In fact the original musical won five Tony Awards in 1986 including Best Musical and Best Performance by a leading Actor in a Musical for George Rose.
For those of you who enjoy high kicking, energetic antics and an oh-so mysterious goings-on, let me tell you – Director Paul Mullins has brought forth a Dickens of a cast – a Dickens of a production- and you’re gonna love Our “Miss” Drood (Emily Ferranti) like the Dickens – ahem, yep he’s a she – but The Chairman – aka Master of Ceremonies of the Royal Music Hall (Kurt Zizchke) will explain all the delectable Victorian goings on at plays onset.
A favorite of mine when the tale be Dickens is listening for the names of the characters- and “Drood” does not disappoint with such stalwarts including; Throttle, Drood, Crisparkle, Princess Puffer, and that double dee- Dick Datchery. The game as they say is afoot- this well-crafted Musical Murder Mystery, with multiple conclusions that you the audience vote on, choosing who the murderer is – sort of a live version of that children’s classic board game “Clue” where you deduce the real killer by the clues provided – you know – “Colonel Mustard” did it in the Conservatory, here it’s who done in Drood by the River?
As performed, MOED is a play within a play, characters do not actually portray specific Dicken’s characters, but are the cast members of “Royal Music Hall” who have been hired to play Dickens troupe of players, some in multiple roles, as they engage the audience in a humorous process of deduction, song and dance and the eventual whodunnit. I still say it was Princess Puffer in the Pantry!!
As a musical MOED does not fall short, hummable tunes that are finger snap friendly, such as the opening number “There You Are” – where stalwart cast members intermingle among the audience – I received a wink and a “how do you do” from Miss Drood, me thinks she liked my white beard. And speaking of our Miss E. Drood and her/his duel role of Dick Datchery, Miss Emily Ferranti OWNS this production – what a triple treat- actor, singer, dancer – and oh what a singular joy to watch this young accomplished actress on stage- – she reminds one of a young Julie Andrews- an angelic voice, commanding stage presence – in the words of La Andrews- she is “loverly, loverly, loverly”.
We take note that this is a huge cast, 23 in all, who are all superb in their various roles. We would be remiss in not mentioning the wonderful Kurt Zischke as The Chairman/Mayor Sapsea, humerus, folksy, and robust – bravo. We send out a coveted “Howard Noticed You Award to Miss Rebekah Santiago in her portrayal of Helena Landless – you provided a deliciously delightful enunciation of the line “Corpse”- highly enjoyable.
Lastly, tis I, Howard Steven Frydman, your trusted theater reviewer, 2 hours and 30 minutes have passed oh too quickly and here I still sit, row J, seat 114, at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, in Storrs, Connecticut, and I be beaming with a wide-eyed smile from ear to ear I tells ya!! Beaming!!! Folks!, the Connecticut Repertory Theater’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, is one mystery I can surely solve right away – this side of Broadway – ITS A HOT HIT of a musical production that surely should not be missed. In fact this cast, the costumes, this entire uncompromising production, is Broadway worthy and thus worthy of your time and appreciation. Enjoy!
This production will take place at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater located on the campus of the University of Connecticut. CRT is the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut- Storrs, CT. For ticket information or to purchase tickets by phone: 860-486-2113 or visit online at www.crt.uconn.edu.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.