`Drood' provides excitement, intrigue

Glenelg Country School's production, based on an unfinished Dickens novel, calls for the audience to choose the play's ending


The audience eagerly scans the stage for clues: a raised, malevolent eyebrow; a sneer where there should be a smile; a pair of suspicious, if bumbling, stonemasons. None of these pieces seems to add up; the characters are not who they seem; and no one in the audience can agree on the murderer.

That's just fine, however, in Glenelg Country School's production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, as the excitement, confusion and intrigue are the elements that give the play its charm.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is based on a novel by Charles Dickens, who died before he could finish it and reveal the murderer's identity.

Rupert Holmes took the unfinished work and created a musical comedy that requires the audience to choose the ending and the killer. A fan of English pantomime theater, Holmes made The Mystery of Edwin Drood a frame play (or a play within a play), with each character representing a specific part and the actor who plays that part. In addition, as decreed by the "panto" school of thought, a female must play the male lead.

Sounds confusing? It is, but that is what makes the show work, and what made the play a delight to watch.

The Glenelg Country School cast did a superb job of playing the double roles of the actor and the designated, and often wacky, part.

As the title character, Hayley Brown played Edwin Drood with a campy-ness that fit perfectly. When the audience decided that Drood was dead, Brown, now playing the part of the actor, stomped off stage in a diva-inspired fit of fury amid gales of laughter.

Maeve Ricaurte as Rosa Bud has a gorgeous voice and played her part with a naivete that complemented the cast nicely. The bizarre and intriguing John Jasper, played well by Cameron Shojaei, made every scene in which he appeared that much more interesting. Perhaps the best number in the show was his duet with Chris Lehan as William Cartwright. Aptly titled "Both Sides of the Coin," the number featured the two lamenting the duality of their roles; each played it with perfect comedic energy.

Chris Lehan, as both William Cartwright and Mayor Sapsea, was one of the highlights of the show. He tackled the task with grace and poise, and he often single-handedly kept the show moving. And who can resist lines like, "My wife was one in a million. ... Actually, she was won in a raffle."

Ryan Moling and Kelson McAuliffe, as the father-and-son team, were extremely funny throughout the show. The two had an ambling sort of hop-step that kept the audience laughing. Other exceptional performances were turned in by Erin Hillmar (Princess Puffer), Danielle McFall (Helena Landless), Shreyo Banerjee (Neville Landless), and Collin Lyons (Bazzard). Each added a unique aspect to the show.

Although the set was kept to a bare minimum, the technical aspects were executed well. The orchestra performed well and added a crucial tone to the musical.

When the line between the actors and the audience blurs, events onstage can get a bit hazy, but the GCS players acted with aplomb. The plot features murder and domestic violence while remaining funny and light, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is paradoxical. Capitalizing on this originality, the Glenelg Country School cast, crew and pit put on one "Dickens" of a musical.

Evan Sanderson, a senior at Atholton, reviewed "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.

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