THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD is a show-within-a-show unfolding among the company of “London’s Music Hall Royale” in 1895. This musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Bankstown Theatre Company’s production makes for a highly entertaining evening. The very talented cast, director and production crew ensures the audience is part of the action and enjoys this music hall melodrama.
The musical is loosely based on the unfinished novel of the same name by Charles Dickens who, as “The Chairman”, played with flare by Les Asmussen our Master of Ceremonies for the night, says “Mr. Charles Dickens was full halfway through the creation of The Greatest Mystery Novel Of Our Time, when he committed the one ungenerous deed of his noble career: He Died, leaving behind not the slightest hint as to the outcome he had intended for his bizarre and uncompleted puzzle” Thus the audience is left to select the murderer from a range of suspects.
Rupert Holmes, who wrote book, music and lyrics, does not focus on the murder of Drood but rather on the antics of the characters that make up the musical hall troupe. The story is set in “Cloisterham” and deals with John Jasper, a Jekyll-and-Hyde choirmaster played with full gusto by Stephen Halstead, who is madly in love with his music student, the beautiful Miss Rosa Bud, acted & beautifully sung by Rebecca Carter. Miss Bud is, in turn, engaged to Jasper’s nephew, young Edwin Drood, portrayed by a very polished Courtney Glass. Drood disappears mysteriously one stormy Christmas Eve – but has he actually been murdered or…?
We’re into Act Two, the story is in choas, and the characters begin lobbying the audience for solutions to their problems. Was it the wicked choirmaster, Drood’s uncle? Or could it have been Helena or Neville Landless (Jessica James Moody and James Jonathon), the Ceylon born twins who both have their reasons for wanting Drood out of the way? Or perhaps the very Reverend Crisparkle (Simon Fry) who hides dark secrets or the comic drunken Durdles (Ben Dodd) or Bazzard (Robert Taylor) … or maybe the mysterious Princess Puffer (Victoria Wildie), almost everyone is a possible suspect! Deputy (Greg Thornton) and Mr James Throttle (Vince Cairncross) add to the strange assortment of characters in the mystery.
The director Christopher Hamilton ensures the action moves along in ordered madness. Musical direction by Jayne Hamilton supports the singers with two piano accompanists (herself and Greg Crease) which form the orchestra. A clever and effective use of a series of paintings directed onto a large background screen place the audience in different locations. The musical hall set and detailed costumes further enhance this Victorian atmosphere.
A fun night is had by all with different outcomes each night depending on the audience vote.
The final performance of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD is this afternoon at 4pm at the Bankstown Arts Centre, 5 Olympic Parade, Bankstown.