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[The Mystery of] Edwin Drood

Cover to original cast recording

A Musical in 2 Acts, 12 Scenes. Book, music and lyrics by Rupert Holmes. Suggested by the unfinished novel of the same name by Charles Dickens.

0riginally produced Off-Broadway 4 August 1985 at the Delacorte Theatre, Central Park, for 27 performances. Late in the Broadway run the title of the show was altered to DROOD.

Original Broadway production produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp Producer. Winner of 5 Tony Awards Including Best Musical

Imperial Theatre, Broadway 2 December, 1985 - (608 perfs)
Savoy Theatre, London 7 May, 1987

Directed by Wilford Leach.
Choreography by Graciela Daniele.
Scenery by Bob Shaw.
Costumes by Lindsay W. Davis.
Lighting by Paul Gallo.
Sound by Tom Morse.
Magic lantern projections by James Cochrane.
Orchestrations by Rupert Holmes. Musical direction by Michael Starobin.  


This hilarious musical whodunit was a smash hit on Broadway where it received rave reviews. Loosely based on Charles Dickens' famous unfinished novel, it takes audience participation to new heights by letting them directly effect the play's outcome by voting for whomever they think murdered the unfortunate young Edwin Drood. Presented as a 'first night performance by The Music Hall Royale', a troupe of decidedly hammy Victorian actors, this affectionate recreation of a bygone theatrical age is certain to prove an enormous hit with everyone. The witty and tuneful score contains such numbers as "There You Are", "Moonfall", Perfect Strangers" and "Off To The Races"


Act I

At London's Music Hall Royale, preparations are underway for the premiere performance of the resident troupe's version of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." Members of the troupe (who venture out into the seats) explain to audience members the historical details of Dickens's untimely demise, as well as the role the audience will play in determining the outcome of the mystery. From various locations in the theatre, the cast members perform the opening number. The Chairman, a kind of Master of Ceremonies, informs attendees that this is going to be an unusual production, and invites all to be as "vulgar and uncivilized as legally possible." With this announcement, the play-within-the-play gets underway.

The first Dickens character introduced is the choirmaster John Jasper, a "respectable" member of society who shares with the audience the fact that he actually suffers from inner torment. Next to be introduced is Jasper's nephew, Edwin Drood (whom the Chairman reveals is being played by the famous male impersonator, Miss Alice Nutting), who discusses his impending arranged marriage with Rosa Bud, as well as his plans to leave for Egypt after the wedding.

Drood's fiancée, Rosa Budd, is then introduced at the "Nun's House" (a ladies' seminary). It is her birthday, and Jasper, her music tutor, has composed a song for Rosa which he insists on hearing her sing. During the encore, two orphans from Ceylon, Neville and Helena Landless, enter with the Reverend Mr. Crisparkle. After Rosa faints from the lustful lyrics of Jasper's song, Helena comes to her aid while Neville displays an attraction to Rosa. Next to introduce herself is the Princess Puffer, the madam of an opium den ("The Wages of Sin"). We see that respectable Jasper is himself a customer of the den, and, as he dreams of Drood and Rosa, Puffer reacts when she hears Rosa's name.

Back in Cloisterham, the gravedigger Durdles and his Deputy enter to discuss a newly completed tomb for the wife of Mayor Thomas Sapsea. It is announced that the actor playing Sapsea is too drunk to perform, so the Chairman himself takes over the role.

The following day, Rev. Crisparkle introduces Edwin and the Landless twins. When Drood shares his plan to pave a desert highway with stones from the Egyptian pyramids, he offends his new rival Neville and his sister: the three then proceed to argue. When Jasper enters with Mayor Sapsea, he points out to the mayor that everything is not always what it seems, a statement the Chairman, confused by his dual roles, agrees.

Jasper sneaks around the cemetery, where he obtains a key to Mrs. Sapsea's tomb. Afterwards, Edwin and Rosa reveal that they both have strong misgivings about their upcoming nuptials, and decide to break off their wedding plans, but not to tell anyone until after the Christmas holiday. At Jasper's home, the major players join together to celebrate Christmas dinner, but all is not jolly as the rivalries and dark motivations of all are revealed. Edwin and Neville head out to the river as the others depart, and Jasper offers his topcoat to Edwin.

The following day Edwin has disappeared, and Crisparkle's assistant Bazzard has found Jasper's coat torn and bloodied. Drood is presumed murdered, and Neville is the chief suspect. The Chairman stops the show to allow Philip Bax, the actor playing the small role of Bazzard, to briefly take the spotlight. Though Neville is captured, he is soon released after his sister points out that Drood's body has never been found. Meanwhile, Jasper sinisterly declares his passions to Rosa, who angrily rebuffs him. Their heated confrontation brings the first act to a close.

Act II

Six months later, Edwin Drood is still missing and Princess Puffer and a stranger, Dick Datchery, arrive to investigate the mystery of Edwin's disappearance. At this moment, the Chairman returns with Deputy and Durdles to remind the audience to pay attention to the clues.

While looking for Jasper, Puffer meets Rosa Budd and, joined by the rest of the cast, tells her not to give up her ambitions. Abruptly, all stops: this is as far as Dickens got before he died. It is now time for the audience to decide how the story ends. First it must be determined whether Edwin is actually dead or not. It turns out that Alice Nutting, female impersonator, has been wearing the Datchery costume in order to fulfil her contract to appear in two acts of the play—but are Datchery and Drood one and the same? The cast votes unanimously that Drood is, indeed, dead. Alice, before being sent off, angrily tells the cast that they were all jealous of her, and that that is the only reason why she is being dismissed. After her exit, the Chairman reveals the truth: Alice was a pain, but now it remains to be determined who Datchery truly is. The audience votes for a new Datchery by applause (anyone who has already appeared in scenes with him is ruled out), and the actor chosen goes to make a costume change for the finale.
Next to be determined is the murderer. The Chairman runs down the list of possible murderers and their motives for the crime. The audience is asked to vote by "districts" for the killer, and while the votes are tallied the audience is led to the resolution of the Mystery.

Puffer finds Rosa and reveals that, years before, she had been Rosa's nanny. She continues with her revelation and reveals the identity of Datchery (previously chosen by the audience.) The evening's Datchery (either Bazzard, Reverend Crisparkle, Helena, Neville, or Rosa) explains why he or she wants to find the killer and promptly accuses Jasper of being the murderer. Jasper soon admits that he strangled his nephew while in a laudanum haze. Durdles the gravedigger, however, disagrees; he witnessed the crime and knows who truly killed Edwin Drood. Depending on the audience's vote, the finger is pointed at Bazzard, Crisparkle, Helena, Neville, Puffer, Rosa, or Durdles himself. The murderer confesses, then sings a reprise of one of several numbers to admit his or her culpability. (If, albeit not likely, the audience chooses Jasper as the murderer, Durdles does not interrupt and a second confession is not performed.)

Still, a happy ending is needed, and the Chairman asks the audience to choose two lovers from among the remaining cast members. The two chosen members declare their love, and then reprise "Perfect Strangers". Just then, there comes a noise from the crypt, and a very-much-alive Edwin Drood appears, ready to tell all what really happened on the night of his disappearance. The mystery is solved, and the members of the company take their bows.

Cast: 6 female, 9 male 

Original Cast (in order of appearance):

Mayor Thomas Sapsea/Mr. William Cartwright, Your Chairman: GEORGE ROSE.
Stage Manager and Barkeep/Mr. James Throttle: Peter McRobbie.
John Jasper/Mr. Clive Paget: HOWARD MCGILLIN.
The Reverend Crisparkle/Mr. Cedric Moncriede: GEORGE N. MARTIN.
Edwin Drood/Miss Alice Nutting: BETTY BUCKLEY.
Rosa Bud/Miss Deidre Peregrine: PATTI COHENOUR.
Alice/Miss Isabel Yearsley: Judy Kuhn.
Beatrice/Miss Florence Gill: Donna Murphy.
Helena Landless/Miss Janet Conover: JANA SCHNEIDER.
Neville Landless/Mr. Victor Grinstead: JOHN HERRERA.
Durdles/Mr. Nick Cricker: JEROME DEMPSEY.
Deputy/Master Nick Cricker: STEPHEN GLAVIN.
The Princess Puffer/Miss Angela Prysock: CLEO LAINE.
Shade of Jasper/Mr. Harry Sayle: Nicholas Gunn.
Shade of Drood/Mr. Montague Pruitt: Brad Miskell.
Clients of Princess Puffer (2): Mr. Alan Eliot: Herndon Lackey.
Mr. Christopher Lyon: Rob Marshall.
Succubae (4): Miss Gwendolyn Pynn: Francine Landes.
Miss Sarah Cook: Karen Giombetti.
Miss Florence Gill: Donna Murphy.
Miss Isabel Yearsley: Judy Kuhn.
Satyr/Master Nick Cricker: STEPHEN GLAVIN.
Servants (3): Mr. Philip Box: JOE GRIFASI.
Miss Violet Balfour: Susan Goodman.
Miss Gwendolen Pynn: Francine Landes.
Harold/Mr. lames Throttle: Peter McRobbie.
Julian/Mr. Alan Eliot: Herndon Lackey.
Horace/Mr. Brian Pankhurst: Charles Goff.
Bazzard/Mr. Philip Bax: JOE GRIFASI.

Citizens of Cloisterham: Karen Giombetti, Charles Goff, Susan Goodman, Nicholas Gunn, Judy Kuhn, Herndon Lackey, Francine Landes, Rob Marshall, Peter McRobbie, Brad Miskell, Donna Murphy, Joe Pichette.


Reed I (piccolo/flute/clarinet), Reed II (oboe/cor anglais/clarinet), Reed III (flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet), Reed IV (bassoon), 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, drums, percussion, Keyboard I (piano/synth), Keyboard II (synth), Keyboard III (synth), 3 violins, 2 cellos, bass

Musical Numbers


  1. "There You Are" - Chairman, Company
  2. "A Man Could Go Quite Mad" - Jasper/Paget
  3. "Two Kinsmen" - B. Buckley, Jasper/Paget
  4. "Moonfall" - Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine
  5. "Moonfall" (reprise) - Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine, Helena Landless/Janet Conover, Alice/Isabel, Beatrice/Florence
  6. "The Wages of Sin" - C. Lame
  7. "Jasper's Vision" - N. Gunn, B. Miskell, Succubae, S. Glavin
  8. "Ceylon" - B. Buckley, Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine, Helena Landless/Janet Conover, J. Herrera, Ensemble
  9. "Both Sides of the Coin" - Jasper/Paget, Chairman, Ensemble
  10. "Perfect Strangers" - B. Buckley, Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine
  11. "No Good Can Come from Bad" - J. Herrera, B. Buckley, Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine, Helena Landless/Janet Conover, G. N. Martin, Jasper/Paget, J. Grifasi
  12. "The Name of Love"/"Moonfall" (reprise) - Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine, Jasper/Paget, Ensemble


  1. "Settling Up the Score" - Dick Datchery, C. Laine, Ensemble
  2. "Off to the Races" - Chairman, J. Dempsey, S. Glavin, Ensemble
  3. "Don't Quit While You're Ahead" - C. Laine, Company
  4. (The Voting: "Settling Up the Score" reprise) - Company
  5. "The Garden Path to Hell" - C. Laine
  6. ("The Solution") - Entire Company


  • Mayor Thomas Sapsea
  • Chairman William Cartwright
  • Edwin Drood
  • Dick Datchery
  • Miss Alice Nutting
  • Rosa Bud
  • Miss Deirdre Peregrine
  • John Jasper
  • Mr. Clive Paget
  • The Princess Puffer
  • Miss Angela Prysock
  • The Rev. Crisparkle
  • Mr. Cedric Moncrieffe
  • Neville Landless
  • Mr. Victor Grinstead
  • Helena Landless
  • Miss Janet Conover
  • Bazzard / The Waiter
  • Mr. Philip Bax
  • Durdles
  • Mr. Nick Cricker
  • Deputy
  • Master Nick Cricker


Scenes and Settings

The action takes place at the Music Hall Royale this evening. Opening comments by Your Chairman, Mr. William Cartwright, immediately followed by the Music Hall Royale's presentation of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

Act 1: The Situation.

Act 2: The Sleuths.