By Madison Red, Staff Reporter
Photos by Cissy Ming, Copy Editor
Refreshingly different than anything Conestoga has put on before, The Mystery of Edwin Drood surprised audiences with its unique interactiveness. Cast members walked in the aisles conversing with the audience. Princess Puffer even sat down on one person’s lap while singing her solo “The Wages of Sin.” From the costumes and sets to the music, the play deviated from the traditional format of a standard musical.
Costumes were authentic and helped bring the play to life. The stage makeup complimented the costumes. Everyone looked like they had stepped right out of the 1800s and onto the stage. Jasper’s mustache, the Reverend’s mutton chops and even Princess Puffer’s fake wrinkles made the characters seem more real.
The set crew truly outdid themselves this year. From the opium den to the market square to Jasper’s dining room, each set was detailed and artfully built. What really stole the show was the steam engine. Complete with a headlight and smoke stack, the train provided a wonderful backdrop for “A Private Investigation.”
Unfortunately, the music from the pit was not recognizable or very upbeat. Although it was not as catchy as past ’Stoga musicals, it was still entertaining. The pit’s accompaniment complimented the cast’s voices and never missed a beat. All of the students in the pit wore old fashioned black hats with red ribbons, which was interesting. The actors also interacted with the pit several times, which set the play apart from past musicals. One person in the pit even gave Princess Puffer a flower.
There were some spot-on British accents among the cast, and there were some that were not as good. Despite this variation, all the actors and actresses stayed in character and used accents before the play started and throughout intermission. It made the production come to life and made you feel more connected with the characters.
Let’s face it, Conestoga’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood was rather hard to follow, albeit excellently performed. The beginning of the first act whisks you from place to place rather rapidly with some difficult-to-understand commentary from the Chairman. Throughout the performance, there were interruptions to introduce actors from within the play that made the scenes feel a little choppy. However, at the end everything came together, leaving the viewer with only a few questions about the vague subplots.
The cast flooded into the audience during the middle of Act II, asking the audience who they believed the murder was. Several even stood up on the armrests of chairs to count votes. It was a unique experience. However, I prefer my actors to stay on the stage. It is impressive to note that all of the seven leads had to be prepared just in case they were chosen to sing “Murderer’s Confession”.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood did not disappoint. Despite its hard-to-follow subplots and dark songs, the cast and crew did charm the audience with their sets, voices and costumes. Just like every year, Conestoga continued its tradition of delighting its audiences with a well performed musical.