Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

ALFRED:  Many think that Charles Dickens intended to murder Edwin Drood and make clear the “who” of whodunit but Dickens died before the final episode of the work was published. Who dispatched Drood? Authors and playwrights started proposing endings in 1870 but Rupert Holmes dusted off the mystery in 1985, set it to music and created the first Broadway musical with multiple endings (determined by audience vote).      Holme’s Drood garnered 5 Tony Awards including best musical.
            The Mystery of Edwin Drood will be yours to judge at the Miller Performing Arts Center at Alfred University on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 10 -12 at 8pm. Tickets ($10 adults, $5 students and retirees) must be ordered by April 10. Call 871-2828 or go to www.alfred.edu/performing_arts .
                The costumes, characters, accents, dances and toe-tapping songs are all good reasons for you to reserve tickets. Here are few of the people you’ll find in the cast.

                Dana Harris grew up in Los Angeles and is now a senior studying theater. She plays the part of stage manager.  This is Dana’s first musical since playing Lucy in Snoopy in high school. She said that Drood is stressful but exciting.  
                The day we talked Dana was still sparkling from being added to the lovers’ scene at the end. Her character speaks in a Scottish accent. Most of her colleagues have added a British lilt but Dana thought she’d mix it up a bit my rolling her words through Scotland.
                To prepare, she watched Brave several times and spent time studying David Tennent in Dr. Who. She listened to accents, practiced her lines with their tones and recorded herself for evaluation.
                Dana is impressed with the many excellent accents developed for Drood and she enjoys watching and listening to the character of Jasper but her favorite part of the musical is the role of Reverend Crisparkle. 

                The part of Durddles is played by Danny Gray (a sophomore in The School of Art and Design, from Madison, Wisconsin). When asked what makes Drood fun, Danny said, “Every line I speak is a blast for me.”
                Danny came to Alfred because of ceramics but he fell into theater and, lucky for all, loved it. On the stage he found friends and fun so he has acted again and again with Drood as his fourth show. Prior to AU, he’d only had a small part in Cabaret in high school.
                Danny said that he thinks all the tunes are fantastic but when pressed for a favorite he chose “Moonfall Quartet”.
                 “It’s moving and amazing, a serious touch in an otherwise silly show.”        

                One of the actors in “Moonfall Quartet” is Rosa Budd, played by Jessica Antrobus (a senior studying English and communications, from Cleveland). Jessica brings Rosa to life with friendship, fear, disgust, anger and more than a dollop of charm.
                She cited “Moonfall Quartet” as one of the highlights of Drood also. She said that the harmonies are beautiful and that kinship among the women fills the song with support as well as emotion.
                This is Jessica’s fifth experience on the stage at AU but she’s performed in many settings since she was 10, picking up skills and learning to get into a character along the way.
                Jessica clearly enjoys the dance sequence in “Off to The Races” where the entire cast makes the stage sparkle with “happy.” She said that she’s not a dancer but dances well enough to get the moves.

            Another character is portrayed by Darren Palmer who came to Alfred from Wingdale, NY. Darren is now a senior in theater after choosing his major as a junior. Drood is his fifth production.
            Each of those productions was directed by a different person so each brought different information, instruction and experiences to the growing actors. Darren said that this exposure helped him grow as himself as well as an actor developing characters.
            In Drood, Darren transforms into Bazzard, a hunched and lurching form, clutching his masterpiece and rendering his face into the physical definition of creepy. Sometimes he sheds Bazzard’s unnerving cloak to inhabit Philip Bax (Drood is a play within a play). As Bax, Darren sings “Never the
the Luck” with the support of several cast members. This, he says, as with all the times when the entire ensemble is on stage, is a warm experience of mutual support and community.               

                Darren encourages you to experience live entertainment whenever you can. He noted how a live experience is solidly different from a film or CD. He said that in movies each clip is likely seconds long. A live performance demands extended concentration from both actors and audience.
                Call for your tickets now and be in the moment with the entire cast of Drood at Alfred University on April 10-12 - Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

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