The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Excitement Level?

Dollypop
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I saw this afternoon's matinee and enjoyed it. I think some of the difficulty in hearing the lyrics may be due (in part) to the sound system. At least from where I was sitting, the lyrics for the ensemble numbers were completely unintelligible.

I thought Chase and Rivera were particularly excellent.

Side Note: The seats in the rear mezz are grossly uncomfortable. There's virtually no leg room up there--only Emmanuel Lewis could sit in those seats without discomfort. As mine was on the aisle, I just sat on the steps and no one questioned me.
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ClydeBarrow
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I REALLY wanted to like this show but I didn't. The show is just so boring that I could barely concentrate on what was happening on stage.

There is nothing engaging about it and all of the breaks by the narrator continuously take you out of the story. I don't see why it would ever be the intention for the audience not to be engaged in the show. I think another part of that was that a lot of the lyrics were very hard to hear and I guess that's being attributed to the sound system although you would think the theatre would have straightened that out right away.

Everyone in the show does a great job with what little they're given. I just don't think there are any showstoppers and a lot of fluff numbers that don't need to be there (like Off to the Races). Will Chase was amazing as to be expected and his confessional song was the highlight. Jessie Mueller and Andy Karl were also standouts to me.

I guess people are liking it but it's definitely not my cup of tea.
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LimelightMike
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"...with what little they're given..." LOL

That's rich. Just rich.
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littlebro2
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I will be in New York on February 15th, so I really hope they extend, if only a week longer!
sassylash3s
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Saw today's matinee and absolutely loved it.

I noticed a lyric change in "No Good Can Come From Bad."

Neville originally sang "A waistcoat worn can soon be torn,
And faggots, too, till maggots feed on you!"

The "faggots" line has understandably been changed to something else, although like most of the posters here I had some difficulty making out what it was.

Does anybody know if this change is new for this production or if it was made sometime after the original? (I guess this is a pretty minor concern but I was listening to the OCR before the show and wondering if this lyric would make the cut today.)


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Kad
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There's not supposed be a real engagement in the plot, which is more a contrivance (despite its literary pedigree) than anything else. You go to laugh, hear some jaunty tunes, and see some schtick.
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bestfreakinshoes
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I saw the show tonight and I really enjoyed it. I was familiar with the music before hand, but I knew very little about the characters. From what people had said around here, I didn't expect Neville and Helena (Andy and Jessie) to have very large parts, but they were part of the action more often than I expected and I really enjoyed both of their performances a lot. Andy was voted the murderer and I was so thrilled he was. (Sidenote: Steph's husband was in the audience and voted for Andy.)

I actually expected Stephanie to be in it more since she's the title character, but her storming off stage scene was so hilarious, it almost made up for lack of her. I love her, but since she's kind of a show killer (she even admits it herself) maybe the fact that this is more of an ensemble piece will mean it's going to last longer?? One can hope, right?

But really, it's putting all these individual wonderful pieces together that makes this cast so great. Betsy Wolfe's voice is amazing (although personally I think she's a little blase acting wise.) Will Chase astounded me with some of his songs as well and the dance scene with him in the opium den was beautiful/creepy.

I'm still sort of on a theater high, so maybe once I process the performances and production more, I won't be as glowing in my reviews, but I definitely think the experience of this piece alone is worth it.
jbm2
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It looks like everyone who loves this show is familiar with the show and the plot. I am completely unfamiliar with this show.... Would I stil enjoy it?
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bwayfan7000
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I find it very interesting that someone commented that this show has no showstoppers. I think that at the very least, a song like "Don't Quit While You're Ahead", while not everyone may like the song, is essentially engineered to be a showstopper. And I think that it certainly is in this production. Though I'm of the mind that when these songs are performed to their fullest (which I think they all are here), that they're all kind of showstoppers in their own right.
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bestfreakinshoes
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@jbm2 -- You definitely don't need to know the story to enjoy it! It's a play within a play-set up, I think that's the most important thing to know.
After Eight
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"I don't see why it would ever be the intention for the audience not to be engaged in the show."

That is so true.

You just can't dismiss half of a show by saying that the material is meant to be second-rate and the auidence is not supposed to care about it anyway. So the audience is supposed to be bored, mystified, or tuned out 50% of the time? No way. And you can't simply excuse it all away by calling it a mere "contrivance." That "contrivance" had damn well better engage its audience.
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somethingwicked
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I was there tonight, and while I found the show strong, I think there are also inherent problems.

The primary issue is that the first act of the show is just downright laborious. Because of all the exposition required by the conceit, it becomes very taxing very fast, and the cast haven't yet managed to get the pacing to a level where it zips along, which is crucial. With the introduction of all the improvisational elements that essentially throw the plot out the window, the second act is infinitely stronger, and I think the fact that it's the last impression that leaves the audience walking out on such a high can be somewhat deceiving in terms of the total quality of the evening.

The other big issue that's specific to this production is the tone of the direction, which I think needs some serious refining. DROOD works best when the actors make the archetypes of the characters in the show within the show very clear, and the most successful people in this production do that beautifully- Chita Rivera, Jim Norton, Will Chase, Andy Karl, and Peter Benson.

Unfortunately, there are others (most notably Betsy Wolfe and Jessie Mueller) who tend to play those scenes in character quite straight, and it made their moments fall flat for me. Wolfe was infinitely better and more vibrant when she stepped out of the Rosa Budd character during the voting in the second act, as was Mueller when performing Helena's number after being voted as Datchery. Both of them need to up the melodrama and tone down the darkness when they're performing the scenes from the play, especially Mueller. To be fair to her, I also think she's ultimately miscast- I couldn't help but think the entire night how she'd be infinitely better served as Drood. She's just not a specific enough comedienne to make sense of the inherent oddness of Helena, which can be so memorable in the right hands, and her missed opportunities are made more apparent by the fact that Andy Karl has created such a weirdly inspired characterization opposite her.

I'm still on the fence about Stephanie Block. I think she'll probably go down in history as the best sung Drood there ever was (her "Writing On The Wall" was thrilling,) but like Betsy Wolfe, she came alive the most when she was out of character as Alice Nutting. As Edwin Drood, she really made no choices at all. There was no sense conveyed whatsoever of why so many people would potentially want to murder the character, which again, is crucial to understanding the function that he serves within the piece. I also agree with a comment I read elsewhere about the production values being pretty ritzy for what is supposed to be an amateur theater group.

In spite of the issues, overall, I think this will wind up a hit. I'd love to go back later in the run when they've settled into more of a groove. No matter what, it sure is fun.

P.S. How did Gregg Edelman finagle his way into above the title billing? Considering what a thankless part he's got, he must have one hell of an agent.
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Updated On: 10/21/12 at 01:59 AM
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goldenboy
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Henrik
To clarify
I agree that for an unfinished piece that the audience voting is a clever way to end Edwin Drrod

But you see that is the problem and my criticism of Edwin Drood. Mystery of Edwin is a very clever musical but it lacks heart. It is too clever for its own good and why it will never be a great musical.

The best musicals have "heart." Annie, Producers, Carousel, Hairspray, Even Book of Mormon has heart. Does anyone care who did it? No Not really. Just look at some of the blogs on here.

As a selling point, the "audience deciding the ending" fills me with ennui but I can't say it's not a clever way to end an unfinished piece.

I haven't seen this revival. It sounds like it has a stellar cast. I am basing my opinion on what I saw in its original form with Cleo Laine and George Rose and Betty Buckley. It's a clever musical. Just not a very involving one.
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LimelightMike
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...It's a musical comedy, for cryin' out loud...

You're taking a rollicking, rowdy, bawdy, bright show WAY too seriously, if you ask me. Over-analyzing the scope, structure and spectrum of a piece that ... doesn't *call* for that sort of mentality to fully enjoy, nor grasp the conceit, or concept. It's, first, a Victorian Music Hall troupe putting-on this piece of splendor -- For better or worse, in all of its aces and faults. The alleged murder, therein, is second nature. By happenstance almost, to breed a 'full circle' of sorts.

jon2
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Does anyone have advice/experience on sightlines from the front row of the mid-mezzanine (row EE)?
After Eight
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"You're taking a rollicking, rowdy, bawdy, bright show WAY too seriously, if you ask me. Over-analyzing the scope, structure and spectrum of a piece that ... doesn't *call* for that sort of mentality to fully enjoy, nor grasp the conceit, or concept"

The problem is some people have not felt that enjoyment. Ultimately, it's how one feels that matters, not how one is supposed to feel, or is told to feel.

Updated On: 10/21/12 at 08:58 AM
Luv2goToShows
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Row EE mid mezzanine if fine for the sight lines and leg room (Leg room is horrible for the remainder of that section)
bestfreakinshoes
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Now upon having time to process, I do feel the first act seems a bit slow. I'm hoping they will cut some of the jokes that fell flat (these were mostly told by the Narrator during his interjections).

I agree with somethingwicked about Betsy Wolfe. I think she has a beautiful voice, but her acting is blase to me. I really loved Jessie Mueller as Cinderella, but she doesn't quite shine as much here. I think she and Andy could make a really fantastic comical duo, though, and I'm hoping that happens.

Ultimately, I feel like I will have to see it again before having many coherent thoughts, but the second half of the show is so fun, it does sort of make you forget any inherent flaws that are in the first. And isn't the theater about having fun? It is for me.
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henrikegerman
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Goldenboy, I agree that Drood is not among the great shows and is at best, when well done, a pleasant diversion. Glad to see we agree on the point of the ending.

I saw the original production and would never say I loved it. But it was beautiful to look at, spirited, well cast, and "Perfect Strangers" remains for me, a remarkably beautiful song. I remember wishing Buckley and Cohenour would have given an immediate encore.

Rose was wonderful of course. And I was particularly fond of Jana Schneider's performance as Helena. She was a strong presence. But even then, under what many consider optimal circumstances, I would never say Drood was a great musical, merely a curiosity that I'm pleased to see revived.


Updated On: 10/21/12 at 01:21 PM
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SondheimFan5
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How large is the orchestra and how does it sound? I imagine it's not the 23 that was in the original?
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macnyc
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As far as the orchestra goes, it is pretty large. I didn't count, so I can't give you an exact number. The interesting thing is that orchestra is split in half, seated on each side of the stage in the boxes. The musicians looked a little cramped, but the sound was clear and well-balanced. I wouldn't be surprised if there were 23 musicians. Maybe someone else can be more accurate.

I enjoyed the show a lot. I didn't have a problem at all with the pacing in Act 1. The singing was great, the set design lovely. I did have a problem hearing the lyrics when the ensemble was singing, and I understand that's been a common complaint. Drood is fun and engaging.

Updated On: 10/21/12 at 07:38 PM
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Smaxie
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It's 15.
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
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WiCkEDrOcKS
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Saw it this afternoon and while I enjoyed myself overall, I do have my reservations about the production. This may also be because of my inherent issues with the piece, which echo somethingwicked's points. The second act is infinitely more engaging, fun, and entertaining. The first act isn't without its moments, but it can certainly drag in spots, as it does in this revival. The direction and choreography are a bit "run of the mill," and I was hoping for something a little more inspired and inventive. The staging could definitely use a shot of adrenaline here and there.

For a Roundabout production, this is the second-coming. By any other standard, it's just a fine revival; nothing more, nothing less if you ask me.

The reason to see this production, however, is indisputably the cast. As mostly everyone has said, this is an impeccably-sung production. Even songs I've never particularly enjoyed were pleasing to listen to this afternoon. This cast is just an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent. I do wish they would all amp up the melodrama a little bit; raise the stakes, and have a little more fun with the ridiculousness of the show. I think that will come in time; once they loosen up a bit. Jim Norton was the highlight for me; he carries this show on his shoulders with such an effortless gusto.

I also agree that the sets are way too lavish for an amateur performance group. And the sound design is really iffy. It was hard to hear a lot of the lyrics, particularly in the opening number.

I completely admit to never really LOVING this show, as it is. So it would have been very hard for this production to completely win me over. But it's a fine revival that should be recorded as soon as possible; because this cast sings the hell out of the score.
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bob8rich
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I'm heading over to NYC from the Uk in a few weeks time and have just booked my ticket for Drood - and I am VERY excited!I've always loved the score and really enjoyed the recent London production. And this Broadway cast is to die for!
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dave1606
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This is a little show that snuck up and became one of my favorites of the season. It is hard to get the excitement level up for a roundabout revival of anything, but I really thought it was generally excellent.

Stephanie J. Block for me was a standout and Writing on the Wall was really thrilling. I also loved her exit earlier in act two.

Costumes were fantastic, and I loved the set design.

I thought Chita was so charismatic and that she looked and sounded fantastic. (My first time seeing her live). I was happy to see her ending today.

One of the biggest standouts though was Jim Norton. He is always excellent and proved to be no different here.


Looking back over the matinee today I keep thinking about how many standouts there were in the cast.(I would be remiss without mentioning will Chase too).

Overall I loved it. I want to keep going back to see different endings. Highly recommended.