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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#1
Posted: 12/15/19 at 7:35pm

Just saw a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I still adore it, though the reliance on patter songs tells me why some folks got lost on a first viewing. I was digging through old Drood threads and was curious about the logistics of the voting process. Both times I've seen it live the chorus has come into the house with clip boards and asked their section of the audience for their votes. Then tallied them in the wings.

Is this how it was done in the Broadway productions? It seems problematic for larger houses. Has any production ever given the audience a chance to drop votes in a hat or enter votes on a phone app? Schools producing shorter runs of the show, do you try to balance out your actors "turns" or do you let the votes fall where they may?

The lovers and detective were voted by applause today, and with similar applause for several I'm not sure how the Chairman chose his candidates.

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Updated On: 12/15/19 at 07:35 PM
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#2
Posted: 12/15/19 at 8:01pm
3 night run director here...I didn't interfere with results. In an audience of about 600, we sent maybe 15 kids out to count, and my student stage manager tallied those results. While one character (Rosa Bud) got voted in each of the three nights, nothing else was the same.

Individual ballots would take too long to count and using cell phones were ruin the old timey feel.

I do remember having a workshop with someone that was involved with the last revival of Drood just a few months after we had produced it. He asked how many endings we allowed the audience to vote on and was shocked when the kids told him all of them.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
scarlet721
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#3
Posted: 12/15/19 at 8:05pm

The last production at Studio 54 actually did an on-line vote for one show (I believe it was Facebook) that led to the only time I've ever seen Durdles as the murderer.  

Personally, I think one of the reasons for a large ensemble in the show was to give them manageable sections for voting in the Park and at Studio 54 (two of the places I've seen it).

Blue Hill Troupe's recent production skewed in an interesting way in my opinion.  It seemed that whichever performer had the most friends in the audience got selected as Datchery  (despite my attempts to tell people that there were multiple things to vote for).  And at one performance, the audience vote was so close in applause that the Chairman seemed to pick one Datchery to give someone else a chance (in a good way!)

 

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#4
Posted: 12/15/19 at 8:26pm

I find Rosa Bud's confession the most dramatically satisfying. Though, upon comparing the OBC confessions with the revised ones for the revival, I feel the revival gives several cast members better material. I particularly like Helena's revised confession.

My inner director wants to play with the staging of the confessions. Having Rosa throw Jasper to the ground, or the Landless siblings try to comfort each other. Though with so many, and so little chance to see them, I understand why many productions just let the actor park and bark.

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Updated On: 12/15/19 at 08:26 PM
scarlet721
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#5
Posted: 12/15/19 at 8:42pm

I prefer Crisparkle's original confession to the revival one, but I prefer Helena's new one.  

I find Bazzard's confession a bit problematic with the required breaking of the 4th wall.  

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#6
Posted: 12/15/19 at 10:28pm

MrsSallyAdams said: "Just saw a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I still adore it, though the reliance on patter songs tells me why some folks got lost on a first viewing. I was digging through old Drood threads and was curious about the logistics of the voting process. Both times I've seen it live the chorus has come into the house with clip boards and asked their section of the audience for their votes. Then tallied them in the wings.

Is this how it was done in the Broadway productions? It seems problematic for larger houses. Has any production ever given the audience a chance to drop votes in a hat or enter votes on a phone app? Schools producing shorter runs of the show, do you try to balance out your actors "turns" or do you let the votes fall where they may?

The lovers and detective were voted by applause today, and with similar applause for several I'm not sure how the Chairman chose his candidates.
"

If you're talking about Chicago's Blank Theatre's production,  I just saw it and I'm not convinced they were actually taking down people's votes. Maybe in a non-equity theater like that it's too much to ask the cast to memorize so many different endings. Having Neville be the murderer also seems much to pat.

 

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#7
Posted: 12/15/19 at 11:57pm
Many places just take down their section's winners, not the actual tally.

And, yes, it can be predictable. Even it being a popularity contest with who you know in the audience...which is why, I suspect, our Rosa Bud was selected each performance.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#8
Posted: 12/16/19 at 12:10am
The Broadway revival revealed the vote tally when exiting Studio 54. So they did rely on the ensemble for the numbers, whether they were accurate or not.

The lovers are typically voted by applause, I believe, but not the detective. I remember the final performance on Broadway had the rare scenario where Rosa and Helena were the lovers.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#9
Posted: 12/16/19 at 12:14am
Having done Drood as Chairman within the last year and having used all the different ending options, I can concur that the makeup of the audience definitely had an impact on the proceedings. Helena and Bazzard were the most voted Datchery, Rosa the most voted Murderer, and Puffer and Deputy and Helena and Neville being the most voted lover pairs. It is the instruction of the script to have Datchery and Lovers by round of applause and when it was close to call as it often was, I would always take it to a run off between the two highest sounding in order to give the audience the most transparency that we were indeed doing as they had requested. We had the benefit of a long enough run that we did see every single Datchery and Murderer be chosen. We would however take the script suggestion and change the order of the lineup nightly to vary the possible results. For example Bazzard was Datchery two nights in a row so for the next performance he became the first in the lineup which decreases chances for being picked. The script actually offers a lot of insight into the mental choices the audience makes and gives suggestions on how to get varied endings in a longer run.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#10
Posted: 12/16/19 at 12:46am

Question for those who directed it/played in it.  Do you pull John Jasper and/or your Dick Datchery out of the voting for a lover?  Is that something that is in the script?  It feels to me that pulling Datchery out ends up limiting the choices for the lovers a bit much.

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#11
Posted: 12/16/19 at 4:33am
It’s been a while since I’ve been in it but I believe the Datchery still stays in for the lover. And I know Jasper stayed in cause I remember memorizing several endings for the lovers. I don’t think Jasper is a popular choice for lover tho because the audience has seen so much of him.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#12
Posted: 12/16/19 at 5:34am
Only the murderer is taken out if I remember correctly. Officialy. Productions choose to do different things.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#13
Posted: 12/16/19 at 6:33am
I absolutely love the revival cast recording where they took the three popular combinations of lovers and recorded them, specifically because two of them were so weird (Helena & Neville - siblings, Puffer and Deputy - huge age difference). The latter pairing occurred at both performances I saw.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#14
Posted: 12/16/19 at 6:55am

The first production I saw of Drood had the audience vote for one female character, and then one male character for the lovers. I'm thrilled to hear new productions allow for same sex pairings. Does the script offer any bonus dialogue for such situations?

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#15
Posted: 12/16/19 at 8:09am

The most circulated bootleg of the Broadway revival (is it the closing performance) ends the lovers sequence with an implied threesome with Rosa, Helena and one of the men. I don't know if that was something that happened regularly or if they were just clowning for the cast that day, but the crowd went nuts.

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#16
Posted: 12/16/19 at 9:17am

I saw the 1988 tour with Jean Stapleton at the Muny in St Louis with 10,000 seats--I have no remembrance of how the voting was handled, but it must have been by guessing how the audience was voting. 

Good cast also featuring Clive Revill, Jana Schneider, Mark Jacoby, Ronn Carroll, John Deluca, Paige O'Hara and Kathleen Marshall in the ensemble.

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#17
Posted: 12/16/19 at 9:39am

I saw the recent revival around 10 times and got to see EVERY possible murderer (including the only time in the show's two broadway productions Durdles won the vote) except Jasper who I'm told even if he ever won the vote it's the one time they'd rig it because it's not a satisfying ending. Rosa won the most in the recent revival because not only was Betsy Wolf so funny and likable audiences just think it's funny to make the "ditzy" girly character be a vicious murderer. The audiences almost always picked the very young 14 year old boy and Chita Rivera as the lovers. The three way with Rosa/Helena/Jasper only happened a few times, but perhaps the funniest lovers are Helena and Neville which was played with actors in visible disgust and judging the audience for being sick enough to vote for it. 

Is it in all productions that Datchery can only be Helena or Drood? The most recent revival only let you vote between those two "most likely" choices.

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#18
Posted: 12/16/19 at 9:44am

I don't think so...however, there are a number of leads that cannot be Datchery.  

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#19
Posted: 12/16/19 at 9:50am
There are 5 options for Datchery- Helena, Bazzard, Neville, Rosa, and Crisparkle. The cast “votes” Drood dead shortly before this so that is not an option and all the other principal characters appear on stage at the same time as Datchery which eliminates them from being options.
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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#20
Posted: 12/16/19 at 7:17pm

darquegk said: "The most circulated bootleg of the Broadway revival (is it the closing performance) ends the lovers sequence with an implied threesome with Rosa, Helena and one of the men. I don't know if that was something that happened regularly or if they were just clowning for the cast that day, but the crowd went nuts."

 

I was at the closing of Drood at Studio 54 and I don't remember that ending, but I could be mistaken, as my clearer memories are of the Facebook/Durdles night, the night the Westminster Kennel Club winner was the dog Stephanie carried off when Drood storms off, and the night I got to stand on stage with Chita Rive and Will Chase as part of the opening number.

I saw BHT's recent production a number of times and the funniest lovers were Durdles and Helena.  I missed the night it was Puffer and Deputy.

 

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#21
Posted: 1/3/20 at 1:16am

I was at both of those shows....Facebook and the last one. The final choice went like this:

(Playbill) Theatregoers were also treated to three lovers instead of two. Audiences selected Helena Landless/Miss Janet Conover (Tony nominee Jessie Mueller), and were tied between John Jasper/Mr. Clive Paget (Will Chase) and Neville Landless/Mr. Victor Grinstead (Andrew Samonsky) as the pair of lovers – which would potentially place the Landless twins in an awkward romantic situation. Typically the audience is required to vote on the tie-breaker, but The Chairman (played by veteran Jim Norton) said he would mark the final performance by making his own selection. He opted for Chase as Jasper, who is rarely picked to be one of the lovers.

During the final reprise of "Perfect Strangers" Jasper pulled Rosa Bud center stage to join him and Landless for the last few moments of the song. As the two leaned in to kiss him on the cheek, he stepped back so the ladies instead kissed one another. As the lyric goes, "How strangely met are we" indeed!

 

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Mystery of Edwin Drood - Voting Logistics#22
Posted: 1/3/20 at 1:43am

The instructions to mix up the selection order is included as a note in the licensed script as it is a really good safeguard against the same murderer being picked twice in a row. (the Theory goes the most likely person to be voted for is the 3rd, 4th, or 5th suspect in the line up)

When I did Drood, and this was WAY back in the day, I remember there was one evening when Jasper was voted the murderer and on this particular occasion we very quietly awarded the prize to the second-place winner as to not cheat the audience of the full show. We ran for six weeks, and Rosa, who is one of the most frequent choices for murderer, was only voted for once. The run was split pretty evening between Puffer, Neville and Helena, with I think two performances where it was Durdles and at least two or three where it was the Reverend. I don't think Bazzard was ever the murder but he was almost always Datchery, as is standard. 

When I saw the show on Broadway during previews, I got Durdles as the murderer which was apparently a first for this production.