Last weekend, The Doris M. Byrne Performing Arts Center at Mount St. Dominic Academy was transformed into the Victorian “Music Hall Royale” where students of Mount St. Dominic Academy and other area schools brought “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” to life. The story, written by Charles Dickens, was cut short when the wordsmith died, leaving his work unfinished and the identity of the killer the ultimate mystery. In the musical, written by Rupert Holmes, the ending is decided in good old-fashioned democratic (and reality show) style—by audience vote.
With a total of 400 possible endings, the show is quite an extraordinary undertaking and was presented to audiences on Thursday, March 7, through Sunday, March 10, each performance ending differently, at the whim of the audience. In the final performance, Verona resident, Gillian Schuldiner (who played the saucy purveyor of opium, Princess Puffer), was chosen by the audience during Act II to be the murderer. In two other performances, Schuldiner was chosen as the female love interest. With such a variety of possibilities, each actor had to be sharp and ready at a moment’s notice to sing an extra solo (a confession) or a duet (a love song).
All these last-minute decisions kept crew members on their toes as well. Verona residents and MSDA seniors Maggie Ruzich, Ariane Marquez and Lily Posner were part of a technical crew that ran the complicated musical like a well-oiled machine. Ruzich ran follow spot; Marquez served as props mistress and production stage manager Posner called the show.
Photo copyright Fred Goode. Used by permission.