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NY1 Theater Review: "The Mystery Of Edwin Drood"

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The Roundabout Theatre Company is bringing back "The Mystery Of Edwin Drood" to Broadway. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

It's frivolous and excessive, but if you're in the right mood, it's loads of fun. "The Mystery Of Edwin Drood" is back on Broadway after 25 years and the Roundabout Theatre Company is staging a boffo revival.

Rupert Holmes made history in 1986 when he won Tonys for creating "The Mystery Of Edwin Drood," almost singlehandedly writing both book and music. Produced in an English music hall setting, it raucously picks up on Charles Dickens' last work, which the great author never completed. He died before the mystery was ever solved.

Holmes took a democratic approach to the unfinished business and cleverly decided to let audiences choose the ending. Of course it’s silly and gimmicky, and this is one case where the who-dun-it matters less than the how, but how inspired it is and audiences are eating it up.

Happily, the "Drood" company is filled with mega talents. And it's a joyful collaboration between performers, director, design team and music. At close to three hours, it's overstuffed, but so strong are the 11 principle actors, it goes down quite easy.

Holmes' lush score is complex — so many words; so many notes — but it's tunefully rich and sung to near perfection by Stephanie J. Block in the title role, Jessie Mueller as the exotic Helena Landless, Andy Karl as her hot-headed brother Neville, Betsy Wolfe as the nubile Rosa Bud and Will Chase as the drug-addled John Jasper. Jim Norton as the narrator is sublime, and if Chita Rivera struggles with Princess Puffer’s cockney, she adds a starry presence to the mix.

Serious-minded theatergoers may find the success of "Edwin Drood" a mystery in itself, but director Scott Ellis's consummate production with its merry band of musical thespians is sure to win many converts.

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