"There is no fourth wall," says Rachel Landon who is directing the production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood for Obsidian Theater and Standing Room Only Productions. Prospective audiences really need to understand that they'll be entering the world of immersive theater, she says.
They'll even get to pick the ending.
Yes, in Rupert Holmes's musical comedy overhaul of the last — and unfinished — book by Charles Dickens, a new creature was released upon Broadway: a musical with multiple endings.
Audience members will have to pay attention because in Act 2, the actors will turn to them asking for their thoughts. Why in Act 2?
"Because they have reached the point that Dickens died,” Landon says. “The actors turn to the audience led by The Chairman and they ask that you look back on all of the clues in the evening and that you the audience members choose who first of all is the detective in disguise.
"And then from the pool of actors that are left, you are then able to choose who the murderer is. Majority vote. The audience holds up their hands and the actors who are left count up the votes."
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Holmes wrote the book, music and lyrics for the mid-'80s show, which ended up winning five Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. There’s orphans galore, picturesque names (Rosa Budd, Reverend Crisparkle) and a plot more labyrinthine that most modern spy novels. Landon says it runs about two hours with one intermission.
Holmes made judicious edits while maintaining the integrity of Dickens's sprawling work, which was cut short when the acclaimed author died unexpectedly of a stroke. People have been guessing for years who he intended to be unveiled as the murderer. Now's your chance to join them.
Performances are scheduled for September 28 through October 14 at 8 p.m. Monday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sunday at Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 832-889-7837 or visit obsidiantheater.org. $37.50 adults, $27.50 students.