The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Conestoga High School in Berwyn, PA
March 7, 2017
Review submitted by Drew Weiss of The Haverford School
The only thing worse than a murder mystery with a disappointing ending is a murder mystery with no ending. However, thanks to Conestoga High School’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, real-life mysteries from the past were solved by this exceptional cast.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood was originally a novel by Charles Dickens. Unfortunately, the book was never finished, as Dickens passed away in 1870 without ever revealing Drood’s murderer. Thus, when Rupert Holmes created a musical version of the novel in 1985, the show came with eight different endings—one for each of the murderers—that would be chosen by the audience each night.
Conestoga’s production was nearly professional quality; it blew away the audience with its outstanding leads, impressive technical elements, high level of energy, and strong vocals on every number. The show within the show had every audience member both captivated on the story and laughing out loud.
Perhaps the most notable actor in the show was the extraordinary Max Mooney (Chairman). His perfect comedic timing, impressive vocals, and entrancing character led the show to its full potential. Whether he was leading the cast in a song, or simply sitting in a chair sipping his wine, he always seemed to make his way into the spotlight.
The remaining leads were also fantastic. Jack D’Emilio (John Jasper) played the troubled uncle of Drood and number one murder suspect. His Broadway-quality vocals and astounding acting made him a highlight of the show. Rebecca Susskind (Rosa Bud) also shined in the spotlight with her beautifully mastered songs. Other noteworthy performances came from Charlotte Kalilec (Helena Landless), Emily Noll (Princess Puffer), and Zoe Pratt (Edwin Drood), all of which improved the quality of the production.
One of the most breathtaking aspects of the production was the set. Set designer Noah Austin created a town square, a dining room, an opium den, a train station, and many more scenes, each with as much detail as the last. These astonishing sets transported the audience to the various locations in Cloisterham, as well as created a realistic ambiance for the show to live in.
Conestoga’s production of Drood was highly entertaining and hilariously funny due to its well-rounded and talented cast, as well as its crisp, clean, technical elements.
Review submitted by Abby Pancoast of Marple Newtown High School
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical written by Rupert Holmes, features the story of an unfinished Charles Dickens novel in which the ending is determined by an audience vote. The storyline tells the story of young Edwin Drood and his untimely death. Dickens died about halfway through writing the novel before Drood’s murderer was revealed, however, so it is left up to the audience to decide from seven candidates who killed Edwin Drood.
Conestoga High School’s performance of The Mystery of Edwin Drood was certainly a memorable one. The talented cast, elaborate costumes, and interactive nature of the show kept the audience engaged and entertained throughout the entirety of the performance. The lead actors and actresses, particularly Max Mooney as the Chairman, Jack D’Emilio as John Jasper, Zoe Pratt as Edwin Drood, & Rebecca Susskind as Rosa Bud displayed an obvious background in theatric performances and shone with professionalism and raw talent. Jack D’Emilio quickly made his presence known in the second number of the show, ‘A Man Could Go Quite Mad,’ captivating the audience with his powerful voice. Rebecca Susskind demonstrated incredible vocal control and range in the first act, and certainly kept it going throughout the remainder of the show.
The clear talent of the lead actors and actresses was greatly matched by that of those supporting. Charlotte Kalilec and Christian Godfrey as Helena and Neville Landless brought a comedic aspect to the show that made the entire performance very enjoyable. Emily Noll as Princess Puffer brought a raunchy & risqué aspect to the show that was hilariously scandalous. The Succubae and Select Chorus ensembles showed professionalism and poise. Their energy radiated through the show and certainly made the entire production much more fun to watch.
Technically, the show was superb. The lighting perfectly added to the mood of certain scenes, but was not overdone or artificial. Rosa Bud’s microphone was a bit spotty during one particular song, but it was otherwise flawless.
Overall, the cast of Conestoga’s The Mystery Of Edwin Drood should be very proud of the show they have put on. Each individual aspect of the show came together beautifully.