East High presents a ‘solve-it-yourself’ mystery musicalMost musicals have a beginning, a middle and an end. But what if the story has no set ending? Then let the audience choose it.
Most musicals have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning the characters, setting and plot are introduced. In the middle, the characters grow and develop along with the main conflict. And finally, in the end everything is resolved for better or worse for all involved.
But what if the story has no set ending?
Then let the audience choose it.
At least that’s the solution for Duluth East High School Theatre’s fall production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” by Rupert Holmes. The musical is based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. Dickens died while writing the book, leaving behind few notes about how the story was to end.
“It just quits,” says director Rod Dahlquist. “In the musical, at the part where Dickens dies, there’s a clunk on the piano and the actors just freeze.”
This is where the play becomes really interactive. The actors sing that it’s best to not “quit while you’re ahead,” and allow the audience members to vote on how the story should end. The audience will get to vote on the secret identity of a character, which couple ends up happily together and who is responsible for the murder. The outcome will vary from show to show depending on how the audience votes, meaning the students have to be prepared for any number of scenarios.
“It’s an awesome show,” says student Meghan Jarecki. “It’s unexpected for a high school production.” Jarecki is a sophomore and has been in 29 productions, including most recently the main character Meg Murry in the Duluth Playhouse’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”
What Jarecki says she finds interesting about this production is how she has to play two vastly different characters.
“I play Rosa Bud, who is sweet and dainty. Then I also play Deidre, who is a bit more promiscuous,” said Jarecki.
“Drood” is structured as a “play within a play,” meaning that there are two stories being told at once. Most of the principal cast have two identities, first as actor s putting on the play
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” in London’s Music Hall Royale and secondly as their characters within the world of Drood. Sound confusing? Not to worry, it’s explained in the opening song.
“What I like best is how everyone is really inclusive,” says theater newcomer and senior Eric Sampson.
Sampson is one of the 65- to 70 students Dahlquist estimates is involved in the production. This includes the cast, crew, the live orchestra, art department and, most surprisingly, kitchen staff.
For one night only, Friday, Nov. 8, Duluth East High School will turn into a dinner theatre. A traditional English dinner will be prepared by students in the restaurant management class in the Food for Thought restaurant. Chef Glenn D’Amour will lead the preparation of a 1890s-style four-course feast. The menu will include Cornish game hen cooked in the style of traditional Welsh rabbit, Williamsburg Lodge corn chowder and sweet potato pudding.
Dahlquist says it is “a little daunting” to have so many involved in one project but he is confident the show will turn out well.
“It’s got great kids, great characters, and a great plot. It’s got a lot going for it.”
Performances are at 7 p.m. Nov. 7-9 and 14-16 at the Duluth East High School auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, and are available at the door. There are no advance sales of theater-only
The dinner theater is one night only, Nov. 8. Dinner will be served at
6 p.m. and the show will start at 7 p.m. Seating is limited to 60 diners. Dinner reservations will be taken at 218-336-8845, ext. 2174. The cost for dinner and the show is $25.
If you go
Where: Duluth East High School Auditorium
When: November 7-9 and 14-16 at 7 p.m.
Special dinner theatre 6 p.m., Nov. 8, in the Food for Thought restaurant
Cost: Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Call: 336-8845 x 2174