William Shakespeare, whose work is renowned worldwide, is one of the most famous writers in British history. He is hardly alone though, as Britain has produced a number of memorable literary names, from classic children’s authors such as Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl, to novelists like the Bronte sisters and Agatha Christie. One name which certainly warrants a place amongst these greats is that of Charles Dickens. Author of such novels as A Christmas Carol, Dickens’ books are still widely popular today – he even got a Doctor Who episode featured around him, a nod of acknowledgement if ever there were one. In what marks the 200th anniversary of his birth, the theatre world has also celebrated the contribution he made to literacy by reviving the musical based upon his unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Aria Entertainment brought their production of Rupert Holmes’ musical to the Landor Theatre this month and yesterday, it was announced that the production is to transfer to London’s West End. Drood finishes its run at the Landor on 5th May 2012 and then moves to the Arts Theatre from 22nd May-17th June 2012.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood was Dicken’s last novel, published in episodic installments. The author died before completing it, leaving the literary world clueless as to what the intended ending was to have been: who murdered Edwin Drood, if he was murdered at all? Holmes’ musical first appeared on the scene in 1985 at the New York Shakespeare Festival and subsequently transferred to Broadway, where a West End production also followed. The Broadway production won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It draws from Dickens’ original novel and the great British traditions of pantomime and music halls. What really made Drood stand out from other productions was its multiple ending form, the first Broadway musical to implement such an angle. Described as ‘a play within a play’, Drood features a cast who play music hall performers portraying Dickens characters, acting out the events from his novel. The outcome is left up to the audience however, who vote on: who killed Edwin Drood (or IF he was indeed killed), the identity of Dick Datchery and which two characters become romantically entangled, walking off into the sunset together. This interactive practice allows for multiple scenarios, all of which the cast have to be prepared for.
The West End production will star former Coronation Street actress Wendi Peters, alongside Natalie Day (Les Miserables) and Victoria Farley (Les Miserables). Other cast members include Daniel Robinson, Loula Geater, David Francis, Denis Delahunt, Richard Stirling, Chris Coleman, Oliver Mawdsley, Paul Hutton, Tom Pepper and Ben Goffe.
Avid readers and theatre fans alike will surely enjoy this “boisterous and madly enjoyable sing-along” that celebrates one of Britain’s Greats.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Tuesday 24th April 2012