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Discover the Mystery of Edwin Drood in this Whodunit

Charles Dickens, author of classic novels such as: “A Christmas Carol”, “Oliver Twist” and “Great Expectations” has been a landmark figure in modern theatre and pop culture, but arguably his most inventive work remains his most controversial. “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, as an unfinished novel, has been subject to much debate. A murder mystery with no set conclusion is open to endless interpretations.

The story takes place in the small town of Cloisterham, England, the young and charming Edwin Drood has been mysteriously murdered. But by whom? His leering romantic rival, John Jasper? The infamous purveyor of opium and vice, Princess Puffer? The mysterious Landless twins, newly arrived from Ceylon? Or someone else even more dastardly and villainous? Dickens passed away before he was able to reveal the culprit. Rupert Holmes’ award-winning musical of the novel solves this predicament by asking the audience to choose which character is the killer by putting it to a vote. This charming and inventive musical is sure to intrigue and entertain any musical or mystery lover.

Due to the unique nature of the show’s format, the actors have to prepare for whatever outcome the audience decides. This, of course, creates new challenges within the rehearsal process. According to Katie Caldwell, last seen in Elm St’s concert production of “The Secret Garden”, improvisation is a big element of this show, “I love the improv aspects of the show and all the humor involved. It’s a big party of a show with lots of talent and cleverness.” Matthew Shank, returning to Elm St, expressed his excitement towards the audience interaction. “It’s a new and exciting challenge. More than any show previously, the cast feeds off the audience and the shared energy. They really are going to be part of the company.”

The show’s director, Zachary Roe, brings his unique, “actor” perspective to the director’s chair. With a firm background in improv and quick-paced theatre, he’s able to instruct his cast on the fundamentals of improv comedy, as well as preparing for heavy audience interaction. While it may be his first time in the hot seat, Zachary has been performing with Elm St for the last year in several lead roles in mainstage shows including: “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” and “Urinetown.” In addition to his onstage roles, he has been teaching improv/voice-acting classes at Elm St.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood will run at the Elm Street Cultural Arts Center from Oct. 13-29, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets, available now at elmstreetarts.org, are $15 online/ $18 at the door

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