‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’

| Cadenza Reporter

Chances are, sometime in your life, at a bar mitzvah, dinner party or other special event, you have been a part of a mystery party. You know the one: Actors perform a murder and some of the subsequent pandemonium, and then you’re supposed to guess whodunit. Most of the time, there is some level of audience participation, but the ending is always already decided. Until now, that is.

That’s right. In Cast ‘n’ Crew’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” the audience members don’t just guess how everything turns out, but they actually get to vote on who should have done it. The first act of the show is a musical performance of Charles Dickens’ final work, but unfortunately, Dickens died suddenly without finishing his mystery and without leaving any notes about how it would have ended. Thus, during intermission, the audience gets to decide three things: the true identity of a mysterious detective who appears in the second act; which pair of characters should become lovers; and, most importantly, the murderer of Edwin Drood.

Altogether, this means there are more than 840 possible combinations of endings, which virtually guarantees that each audience will get a unique viewing experience. Even the actors haven’t rehearsed every possible ending. According to director Marley Teter, “What we do is rehearse each candidate for detective as the detective and each candidate for murderer as the murderer. It’s tricky, of course, because the murderer’s confession song is the climax of the show, and no single candidate for murderer will ever have rehearsed his or her song even a fraction as much as the rest of the show has been rehearsed, since he/she has to trade off at rehearsals with the other candidates. But isn’t that what makes it exciting?”

So if, like me, you read choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid and wished that concept applied to more than just books; if you crave control over your theater-going experience; if, in short, being a part of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” sounds like an exciting way to spend an evening, then get your ticket now. They are available for $5 at the DUC from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. all this week. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday.