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Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
Arts & Music

Audience helps solve ‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’ at Straz Center


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A musical comedy mystery based on Charles Dickens’ last novel is the latest production of Tampa’s M.A.D. Theatre.

The audience helps determine the outcome of every performance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” playing through Aug. 25 in the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Performing Arts Center.

“It’s a fun show with the actors being intentionally over-the-top,” says Cathy Hooten, president of the nonprofit M.A.D. Theater (Music, Acting, Dance).

This comic take on Dickens’ last unfinished novel was written by composer/playwright Rupert Holmes. It was a hit on Broadway in the 1980s, winning a Tony in 1986 for Best Musical. A Broadway revival this season also is acclaimed.

The story involves the disappearance of Edwin Drood, a dashing young man who vanishes mysteriously from a small English village just before what was to be an arranged marriage to a lass named Rosa Bud.

Was Drood murdered? The suspects include Drood’s uncle, church choirmaster John Jasper, who has long lusted after Rosa. But Rosa loathes him.

Also smitten by Rosa is Neville Landless, a visitor from Ceylon.

“There are seven suspects, and the audience votes on which one is the most likely murderer,” says Hooten. “Our cast is wonderful, ranging in age from 17 to over 40, and director Jennifer Marshall is huge on character development.”

Marshall also directs the choreography. Justin Harvard is musical director.

“We have 20 people in the cast, and they fill the stage at the intimate Shimberg Playhouse,” says Hooten. “The audience is literally inches away from the action.”

The cast includes Omar Montes as the Rev. John Jasper; Caitlin Greene as Edwin Drood; Amanda Smith as Rosa Bud; Nicolas Hoop as Neville Landless and Tyla Rodrigo as Helena Landless, Neville’s sister and Rosa’s close friend.

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