Charles Dickens didn’t live long enough to provide the answers he raised in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” so the audience gets to made some decisions of their own in the musical version by Rupert Holmes that opens tonight at the Manatee Players.
The Tony Award-winning musical, which got its start at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor summer theater, features a host of suspects in the disappearance and apparent murder of Edwin Drood.
Mid-way through the show, when Dickens’ story ended, the audience gets a chance to vote on several aspects of the story, including who killed Edwin Drood, and who is playing the mysterious detective Dick Datchery.
Scott Keys is directing the production, which is staged like a traditional British Music Hall show. Cast members play actors in a theater troupe taking on the roles in Dickens’ story.
Walter Price, who starred in the Manatee Players’ 1989 production, reprises his role as the Chairman. Danae DeShazer plays Drood, the young man (played by a woman) engaged to the beautiful Rosa Bud, played by Eliza Engle. Christoff Marse plays John Jasper, Drood’s uncle and Rosa Bud’s music teacher.
Michelle Spears plays Princess Puffer, who operates an opium den. Jack Harkleroad plays the Reverend Mr. Crisparkle, Jason Kimble plays Crisparkle’s assistant, Bazzard. The cast also includes Tristan Martin and Michele Anaya as twins from Ceylon, Heath Jorgensen as Durdles, J.D. Carter and Craig Engle.
Performances continue through Jan. 26 in Stone Hall in the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave. W., Bradenton. Tickets are $26-$36; $15 for teachers and $13 for students. For more information; 748-5875; manateeplayers.com.