The Mystery Of Edwin Drood
October 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 2003

Cast (Royale/Drood)
Clive Paget/JasperRob Adams
none/HoracePaul Bonnici
none/WendyMary-Catherine Bracali
Angela Prysock/PufferCheryl Burke
Victor Grinstead/Neville LandlessBrad Gunn
Gwendolyn Pym/BeatriceDiane Hriniak
Nick Cricker, Jr./DeputyNathan Kuhns
Nick Cricker, Sr./DurdlesRalph Montesano
Florence Gill/FloVicki Montesano
Chairman/Mayor SapseaBill Mutimer
Phillip Bax/BazzardRob Riker
Cedric Moncrieffe/Rev. CrisparkleBrian Shapella
Deirdre Peregrine/Rosa BudCarolyn Shemwell
Alice Nutting/Edwin DroodLori Sivick
Janet Conover/Helena LandlessAnn Marie Squerrini
Production Staff
DirectorChip Rohrbach
Music DirectorNancy Shumaker
Stage ManagerTerri Yankus
Asst. Stage ManagerHannah Burke
Set Construction/LightingPam & Tom Steigerwalt
Set PainterRon Glass
CostumerDrew Howard



Date Datchery Murderer Female Lover Male Lover
Friday 10/10/03 Helena Landless Princess Puffer Rosa Bud Durdles
Saturday 10/11/03 Bazzard Reverend Chrisparkle Princess Puffer Neville Landless
Friday 10/17/03 Bazzard Reverend Chrisparkle Helena Landless Neville Landless
Saturday 10/18/03 Bazzard Helena Landless Rosa Bud Neville Landless
Sunday 10/19/03 Bazzard John Jasper Helena Landless Neville Landless
Friday 10/24/03 Bazzard Helena Landless Princess Puffer Reverend Chrisparkle
Saturday 10/25/03 Bazzard Neville Landless Helena Landless Durdles
Sunday 10/26/03 Helena Landless Rosa Bud Princess Puffer Durdles


Character Datchery Murderer Female Lover Male Lover Total Votes
John Jasper   1     1
Rosa Bud   1 2   3
Princess Puffer   1 3   4
Helena Landless 2 2 3   7
Neville Landless   1   4 5
Reverend Chrisparkle   2   1 3
Durdles       3 3
Bazzard 6       6
Deputy         0

Cast Photos
Click on any image for a larger version, if available.


A cross between a parlor game, a Victorian melodrama, and a British Music Hall production, ''The Mystery of Edwin Drood'' has entertained and intrigued audiences since it premiered to critical acclaim at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1985. Those who appreciate these theatrical traditions will be delighted by the current Pennsylvania Playhouse production, too.

A play within a play, the show revolves around the efforts of a Victorian acting troupe to put on a show inspired by an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. John Jasper, the Jekyll-and-Hyde choirmaster, is infatuated with Miss Rosa Bud, a music student who has been betrothed from birth to Jasper's nephew, Edwin Drood. One dark and stormy night, young Drood vanishes. Was he murdered? How did he die?

In the best tradition of the British Music Hall, the events are emceed by a ''Chairman,'' a flamboyant Bill Mutimer, who finds himself suddenly playing a part in Drood when one of the actors is too drunk to go on. There is also the standard music hall character of a seduced and abandoned woman, in this case the proprietor of a London opium den, Princess Puffer, nimbly played by Cheryl Burke. And there is the Principal Boy, who is actually a woman impersonating a man, in this case, Drood. A petite Lori Sivick plays the male impersonator, Miss Alice Nutting, with comic diligence.

It's hard to imagine a better performance (or more Byronic vocalizations) than the one Robert Callan delivered as Jasper. Carolyn Shemwell plays Miss Bud to virtuous perfection. Bradley Gunn's spoof on a Ceylon native, Neville Lanless, is hysterically funny, although perhaps not politically correct.

The actors interact with audience members, as if the audience members are regulars who know their repertoires and reputations. And we do. Most are local performers.

To watch the show is to experience what theater was like before musicals became stage versions of movies with cinematic set designs and special effects and production value distanced theatergoers from the actors. Good, thing, too. The Pennsylvania Playhouse budget doesn't allow for elaborate sets, though there are some nice flourishes, including a steaming train.

An energetic, though off-stage, band adds to the music hall ambience. Alas, it sometimes overwhelmed the singers. The music is difficult. The solos, especially, demand a lot from the performer's voices, which, by the end of the production, started to flag.

A play within a play, actors who are characters playing characters, ad libs, jokes, asides — if all of this sounds a bit challenging to keep track of, it is. So is the ending. The original novel ends mid-sentence — the point at which Dickens died. So each night, theater audiences get to decide the outcome. No doubt Dickens, the master of serial cliff-hangers, would approve.

''The Mystery of Edwin Drood,'' 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 26, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illick's Mill Road, Bethlehem. Tickets: $18; $15, seniors, children 11 and under and all seats on Saturday. 610-865-6665.

Marguerite Smolen is a freelance writer.

Jodi Duckett,

Arts and Entertainment Editor


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