by Lorie Lewis Ham
This past weekend I had the opportunity to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood presented by the College of the Sequoias Theatre department in Visalia. I must say I had no idea what to expect, but was drawn in by the title and the cast. It turned out to be a delightful evening of theatre.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Charles Dickens final and unfinished novel. The musical version of this story is presented in the style of a Victorian music hall, with a master of ceremonies, a woman playing Drood, and other conventions of the period. Before the curtain even goes up, members of the cast wander through the audience chatting with you as their characters–actors at a music hall. The master of ceremonies, or chairman as they call him, then introduces you to the show and some of its “actors,” with introductions continuing throughout the show. It is pretty much a show within a show, and the actors are playing two roles, their role as a member of the music hall company and then as a part of the story of Edwin Drood. For me this was a perfect show! I love a mystery and the audience gets to vote and decide the ending each night. It also has fun music, an amazing cast, and is incredibly funny.
Chris Mangels, who also teaches at COS and directs some of the shows there, played the Chairman. He also was the scenic designer and fight choreographer for this show. This man’s talent never ceases to amaze me. He is hilarious on stage, is a fabulous actor, and has an amazing voice! If Chris is in a show, don’t miss it. Playing Edwin Drood’s uncle John Jasper is Terry Lewis. Again, an amazing talent and lovely, powerful voice and someone else that if he’s in a show-go see it.
The talent though does not end there. Vocal performance major at COS Munai Faust’s singing as the fiancé of Drood was simply breathtaking. And while Drood being played by a woman was obvious (as I assume it’s supposed to be), Jordyn White also did an excellent job with both acting and singing. Her song with Musai called “Perfect Strangers” was one of my favorites. Retired Kingsburg schoolteacher Thomas Nance was funny as town drunk Durdles. I could go on and on about the cast of this show as they were all wonderful and very talented, but I will leave the rest for you to discover on your own. Costumes and make-up were also perfect.
This show is fun, campy, hilarious, and just plain wonderful! I think I may have to add The Mystery of Edwin Drood to my list of favorite musicals. I highly recommend seeing this show at COS–with the combo of a great show and an amazing cast you just can’t lose! There is only one weekend left so let’s fill those seats! You won’t only be having a great night at the theatre, but also supporting the arts at one of our local schools. Remaining performances are March 20, 21, 22 and 23. For more information go to the COS theatre page on their website or call the box office at 559-730-3907.
You can find more theatre reviews and entertainment articles in KRL’s arts & entertainment section.