Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 10, 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Opera House Players, Broadbrook, CT
through September 23, 2012
By Walt Haggerty

Charles Dickens’ "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was the great British author’s final work. Unfortunately death inconveniently intruded before the master had arrived at a conclusion. Ever since, other writers and mystery enthusiasts have offered as many as 500 theories as to Dickens possible intentions.

In the current presentation of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," a musical adaptation, presented by The Opera House Players, there are at least five – possibly six - potential murderers. Or, did Drood actually survive? A visit to the Broad Brook lets the audience decide.

In a triple-threat capacity, Rupert Holmes has contributed book, lyrics and a delightful English Music Hall-flavored score. Great credit is also due the artful staging of John Pike, musical direction by Melanie Guerin, and lively choreography by Kelsey Flynn. A special bow should also be given for the elegant 19th century costumes by Moonyean Field and Solveig Pflueger.

As is customary with Opera House Players, casting is impeccable. Brandon Nichols, in his debut, is outstanding as Chairman of "The Music Hall Royale Players." Will Caswell is a formidable villain as John Jasper. Theresa Pilz contributes equal measures of sweetness and innocence as Rosa Bud, without ever becoming cloying.

Brother and sister, Neville and Helena Landless, are effectively portrayed by a stalwart Mike King and an exotic and enchanting Elizabeth Drevits. Erica Romeo skillfully blends charm and mystery into her captivating performance as Princess Puffer. Charles Della Rocco and Matt Falkowski are perfection as a cockney-accented father and son.

The score provides several strong production numbers for the entire company, including the spirited "There You Are" and a rousing "Off to the Races." Each of the principals also has opportunities to shine in solos and/or duets.

The only disappointment of the afternoon was the number of empty seats. This impressive company deserves better. Although this musical may not be as familiar as many of the hits of the past, it is a "Best Musical" winner with a fascinating story that involves the audience in its outcome, a charming and melodic score, and is a perfect opportunity to introduce young family members to Charles Dickens and the theatre.