No one ever does Edwin Drood. No one. So this was amazing, because not only was this theater finally doing Drood, but the director was super passionate about it, which made it even better.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is based on Charles Dickens’ last novel, so it truly is a mystery- he died before he completed the book and left no outline or notes, so no one truly knows who he planned to reveal as the murderer. So the musical opens as an immersive play-within-a-play, with all the actors running around the “Music Hall Royale” in preparation for their first production of Drood. The actors are introduced as their various characters, and the musical continues with plenty of winking and nodding and fourth wall breaking. And then, of course, we reach the point in Act 2 when Charles Dickens died and the whole show comes to a screeching halt. The entire fourth wall is gone, and the audience votes on their choice of detective, murderer, and a pair of lovers. The whole second act and finale of the show changes based on who the audience selects- so everyone has to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow the changes, not to mention the crazy amount of audience interaction.
I was cast as Florence, the “head chorine” of the Music Hall Royale. The director gave us a really challenging audition that involved a difficult cold read and improvisation, all with a British accent, and he told me he was really impressed with my audition and gave me a lot of material to do with the show. We started the show at house open with all of us interacting and improvising with the audience, and he had me as the first one to come out. He also put together a little bit together for me and the Music Hall stage manager to do for the intermission; the theater does a 50-50 style raffle so I got to be the one to draw the number and give the money to the winner.
And within the show I had lots to do to do. I was constantly dancing and running back and forth, and this was a very vocally challenging show too. There’s bits of strong character vocals, and also some very pure legit stuff. I got to sing part of the Moonfall Quartet, which is absolutely gorgeous but really difficult!
And I even sang a G5 at the end of “British Subject,” the only soprano who sang that note.
And did I mention I did it all in a corset? We even rehearsed in corsets. Luckily, I did Charley’s Aunt just a month or two before the rehearsal process started for Drood, so I was used to it, but high kicking in an aisle is quite another situation!
I even got to wear my Charley’s Aunt costume again! I had my beautiful pink ballgown again, and I made a little bustle skirt to wear over my white muslin afternoon dress. I’m glad those pieces got some more wear.
All in all, Drood is an absolutely amazing show and I really recommend auditioning for it or going to see it if the (rare) chance arrives. It’s a great stretch of skills for an actor and a really enjoyable and interactive experience for an audience member!