Welcome to the 2019/2020 season’s kickoff show for Steel River Playhouse in Pottstown, where The Mystery of Edwin Drood debuts. Written by Charles Dickens and adapted into a musical by Rupert Holmes, this delightful show runs until October 20.
Set in Victorian London at the Music Hall Royale, we are watching a story within a story unfold. The “actors” of the music hall are debuting their own version of Edwin Drood, who also happens to be part of the cast. Edwin, who the show revolves around, ends up dead, but where is the body? The “cast” doesn’t know either—it’s a real whodunit. Who has snuffed out the light of this young man (played by a woman, a total diva to her castmates at the Music Hall Royale. Megan Falasco wears these identities like a coat, shedding them each time she takes on a new persona, and where will you see her next?) Jealousies, rivalries, secret loves, and hidden chambers all lay clues to who the killer would or could be—and everyone, it seems, has an agenda for wanting Edwin dead.
The cast of characters often come into the audience as we are playing the part of the regulars at the Music Hall, and they attempt to curry favor for themselves and also opine on who they think the killer could be.
Mysteries swirl around the opium den, deep in the bowels of London, as Princess Puffer herself attempts to gloss over the night’s activities. Puffer (played magnificently by Donna Dougherty) has quite the checkered past and will offer her sage advice in song and attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery before anyone else can.
Keep your eye on the cast and your ear on their lyrics, as clues about the murder float through the air. But it isn’t all doom and gloom; this show is quite humorous, with many laugh-out-loud moments. A true pleasure was hearing Jasper (Drood’s uncle) and the Chairman (the MC of the show as well as taking on various parts in the production) belt out Both Sides of the Coin as the two men share their concern about wondering who they truly are, as they play so many different parts on the stage. Gregory D. Kasander and Tom Pitt sing this song to dizzying perfection.
Meanwhile, many are seeking to gain the attention of young Rosa, the betrothed of Edwin Drood; Could this have been the motive for offing the young man? Rosa Bud, played by Madison Devlin, sings out her uncertainties.
Meanwhile, many of the cast and ensemble show up in other parts at the Music Hall Royale adding to our confusion as we, the audience, attempt to figure of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Directed by Michael Licata and musically directed by Julie Eurillo, this musical keeps the audience entranced as many secrets are shared through song and dance. Wonderfully choregraphed by Rex Henriques with the orchestra conducted by Barbara Newberry, you will feel right at home, or right in the very room of the Musical Hall Royale in London, England, the rustic and regal home of this dastardly murder mystery.
So, kick off your boots, loosen your corsets, and enjoy the show!
Assistant Stage Manager – Jackie Hough
Scenic Design – Anthony Weigand
Costume Design – Lexa Grace
Lighting Design – Jerry Jones
Properties Design – Anna Taylor