Audience decides how Menlo School production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood ends

by Contributed Content on November 9, 2016

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Menlo Drama is presenting the five-time Tony Award-winning interactive, musical whodunit The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based upon the unfinished Charles Dickens novel of the same name.

Performances run Friday, November 11 at 7:30 pm, November 12 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 13 at 2:00 pm in Florence Moore Auditorium at Menlo School. The community is welcome and encouraged to attend; tickets at $10 for adults/$5 for students are available online  and at the door. This production is appropriate for middle school and above.

In Chesterham, England, a charming young Edwin Drood has been murdered in the unfinished final novel by Charles Dickens, who passed away before revealing the story’s end. Ruper Holmes’ musical solves this dilemma by allowing the audience to choose which character is the killer by popular vote. All actors play two parts, an actor of the Music Hall Royale and also the character he or she plays in the production of Drood. With multiple possible endings, the actors, all Menlo school students, must be prepared to perform all possible endings the audience may choose.

“I love that the show has so many components and that it will really challenge every cast member and the audience involvement makes the show extremely special” said senior Anika who plays Alice Nutting and Edwin Drood. Senior Kate Lucas, who plays actress Deirdre Peregrin who portrays the character Rosa Bud, agreed, ” It’s the most complex show we’ve ever done. The audience sees one show, but the actors have rehearsed and know 20 different shows.”

Staging his tenth performance for the Menlo Drama Department, director Steven Minning chose this production for the fall musical “because of its message. The musical is about making your life worth something, hanging on to every breath of life and making it count!”

Minning, head of the Drama Department, was also named Creative Arts Director this fall. “The Mystery of Edwin Drood is about the mystery and the challenges in life,” he said.  “Combine the genius writing of Charles Dickens and Rupert Holmes, and the result is a rich tapestry of theatrics surrounded with joy and humor.”

In addition to his professional skills and experiences, Minning has imported another Broadway tradition to the Menlo School Drama Department, one of philanthropy. Each of his last nine productions has been tied to a specific non-profit organization, chosen by the cast, whose work correlates to the message or themes of the production. Over $18,000 has been raised over the last three seasons, primarily from donations collected from the audience after each show.

While Drood is a true comedy, the play does deal with the subject of drug addition. Delancy Street Foundation is one of the leading residential self-help organizations in the United States that works with ex-addicts and ex-convicts to teach them new skills. Their unique model of social entrepreneurship, education and rehabilitation led the cast to choose this organization to be the recipient of this production’s donations.

Drood kicks off a year of Tony-Award productions staged by the Menlo Drama Department, which will include The Diary of Anne Frank and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. 

Photo courtesy of Menlo School..Front row: Ari Troper (in hat and yellow scarf) Anika Padwekar (purple coat) Kate Lucas (pink dress) Diego Mejia (black cape)
Middle row: on piano Maya Donatio (in red dress) Ben Glazer (in brown suit)
Back row: Jeff Frenkel-Popell (in black hat) Colin Raab (in purple/gold jacket) and Jordan Gold (in white headdress)

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