|Will Chase, Stephanie J. Block|
Photo: Joan Marcus
Because Dickens died before finishing the book, that last question is unanswerable. Nevertheless, with the audience's help, The Mystery of Edwin Drood answers it, while also providing ear-pleasing melodies, wonderful performances, dreadful puns, intrigue and disaster, and a fabulous kick line. The cast is game and energetic, and their clear love of the show is contagious. Stephanie J. Block does well by her various roles and nails her 11:00 number. Jessie Mueller and Andy Karl are polished, elegant, and sly as the Landless twins. Peter Benson's sheer likeability is equaled only by his talent. Will Chase and Betsy Wolfe are both a tad too hammy for my taste (and that's saying something in this ham-filled show) but effective nevertheless. Chita Rivera was out, and while Alison Cimmet lacks star power--and is too young for the role--she pulled it off with flair. By the time she sang "The Garden Path to Hell," the audience had forgiven her for not being Chita.
Another of Drood's many delights is the breathtaking scenery. From street scenes to parlors to a graveyard, the audience is presented with a luscious tour of late-19th-century London. Every time a curtain goes up, the audience is given another visual treat. I imagine (and hope!) that designer Anna Louizos has a Tony in her future.
One criticism must be voiced: at least 50% of the lyrics are indecipherable as sung. When I saw Drood at its first preview, 80% of the lyrics were indecipherable, so I guess this is progress. And, amazingly enough, the show survives this major flaw. But I certainly expect better of a Broadway show.
(press ticket; third row on the aisle)