All together now...

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

By Rupert Holmes
Directed by Steven Smeltzer
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 2)
The Gallery Players
199 14th Street, Brooklyn (718/595-0547)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

The Mystery of Edwin Drood was presented in a remarkable revival by the Gallery Players of Brooklyn. The already cleverly crafted show received impeccable treatment from a phenomenal cast and production staff. A thoroughly exhilarating experience -- even those who have seen the show before would find new things in this brilliant production.

The show consists of a show within a show. The Music Hall Royale is in the process of presenting their opening-night performance of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. They come out and inform the audience of the voting that will take place at the end of the show. Since Charles Dickens died before the novel was completed, the ending he originally intended is unknown. Therefore, as the cast informs us, the audience will vote on a myriad of things, including who the murderer is.

After the catchy opening number There You Are, the chairman of the theatre sets the scene, and the action begins. The play's action is constantly interrupted due to many different problems, but eventually all the characters are presented, usually through a song, and Drood is murdered. The suspects range from the obvious villain of the piece, John Jasper, to the innocent Rosa Bud, Drood's intended. Motives for each character are outlined clearly. The song highlights include Perfect Strangers, a duet for Drood and Rosa, Don't Quit While You're Ahead, a big chorus number led by the opium runner Princess Puffer, and Both Sides of the Coin, a duet for Jasper and the Chairman.

The show is both fun and funny. There are many bad puns, as well as show-stopping numbers. The score is simple and catchy. The production of the show was absolutely flawless. The direction and choreography by Steven Smeltzer were astounding. He made perfect use of the space and easily manipulated his ensemble of over 20. Even the set changes were choreographed!

The cast was completely charming. From the second they came on during the pre-show, they all took every opportunity to ham up everything. They were having a great time, which made the audience have a great time, vicariously. And they were terribly talented, as well. The blend was beautiful. The choreography was done perfectly together. They were a truly tremendous ensemble.

Most of the leads gave great performances. Of particular note were the following. Frederick Hamilton was viciously vain as John Jasper. He brought both charisma and menace to his role. Mary Mossberg played Drood and Datchery with elegant ease, delivering every line effortlessly and belting every note solidly. Theresa Oldmixon was gorgeous as Rosa Bud. Her soprano tones were pure and heavenly, making her a joy to listen to. As the foreign Helena Landless, Allison Regnault had the funniest facial expressions. She nailed every line she had with comic certainty. Finally, Michael Walker was hilarious playing Puffer in drag. He milked the gag for all it was worth and then some, and he also had a really nice voice.

This is a great production of a great musical. Every little detail and nuance of the show was found and fleshed out. Every ensemble member was in unison. There could not have been a better ...Drood.

  Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Seth Bisen-Hersh