Mystery Of Edwin Drood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens’ death, and thus how it might have ended remains unknown. The novel is named after Edwin Drood, but it mostly tells the story of his uncle, a choirmaster named John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud. Miss Bud is Drood’s fiancĂ©e and has also caught the eye of the high-spirited and hot-tempered Neville Landless, who comes from Ceylon with his twin sister, Helena. Neville Landless and Drood take a dislike to one another the moment they meet. Drood later disappears under mysterious circumstances. Dickens died before he could finish the mystery.

The story is set in Cloisterham, a lightly fictionalized Rochester, and feelingly evokes the atmosphere of the town as much as its streets and building.

The first modern major theatrical adaptation was a musical comedy with book, music, and lyrics by Rupert Holmes. The production, originally known by the full name of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but re-titled halfway through its original run to simply Drood, was first produced in 1985 by the New York Shakespeare Festival, and then transferred to Broadway, where it ran for 608 performances (and 24 previews). It won five 1986 Tonys, including Best Musical, as well as Drama Desk and Edgar awards. The musical has since played successfully in numerous regional and amateur productions.

Because Dickens’s book was left unfinished, the musical hinges upon a novel idea: the audience decides by vote which of the characters is the murderer. The musical’s suspect pool includes John Jasper, Neville Landless, Rosa Bud, Helena Landless, Rev. Crisparkle, Princess Puffer, and Mr. Bazzard. Adding further interactivity, the audience also chooses one male and one female character to develop a romance together: Holmes wrote brief alternate endings for every possible voting outcome, even the most unlikely.

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