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‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’ comes to Melon Patch

By Linda Florea

Correspondent

LEESBURG – A comedy, a musical and an interactive mystery for the audience to solve, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” opens Friday at the Melon Patch Theatre for a three-week run ending on Nov. 11.

The Tony Award-winning show is based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel. Rupert Holmes wrote the play, and since no one knows how Dickens would have finished the mystery, he leaves it up to the audience to decide.

The cast plays a band of colorful Victorian music hall performers at the Music Hall Royale in the two-act play, with the first act setting the stage for the audience vote, which determines the outcome of the second act.

“Rupert Holmes, who wrote the piece, was able to play upon the time frame and immerse the audience in the Victorian music hall, a full riotous atmosphere of slapstick humor, bad punch lines and lovely ladies in corsets and bustles,” said director Beau Mahurin. “There is a lot of direct audience interaction both pre-show and during the voting process itself. The fact that the audience does literally have a stake in the outcome of every performance is what makes it special. Because mathematically you could come back here and see the show over and over again and never get the same experience.”

Mahurin added that he encourages audiences to arrive early to join in the preshow activities.

“Learning all the different See MYSTERY, A4

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” opens Friday at the Melon Patch Theatre in Leesburg and continues until Nov. 11. The play is based on an unfinished Charles Dickens novel where the audience gets to determine the ending. [SUBMITTED]

From Page A3

potential endings has been a challenge, not just for me, for all the actors,” said Alexander Principe, who plays Philip Bax (whose stage name is Bazzard), said his character is the underdog in the company with a bit role and few lines. The performers all have two names, the person they portray and the part that person plays when they are performing in the troupe.

Jessa Halterman, who plays Alice Nutting who performs as Edwin Drood, said part of the appeal of the play is the audience interaction.

“We are in the aisles breaking the fourth wall, as we say, speaking directly to the audience before, during intermission, all throughout the show and that is very exciting,” she said. “And it’s also fun they get to choose the ending.”

Melon Patch president, Dustin Lavine, plays William Cartwright, chairman of the music hall.

“I listened to the music and fell in love. I mentioned it to Beau and he said that’s one of my dream shows to direct,” Lavine said. “We put it up to the board, they listened and they were a little on the fence because most people don’t know the show and the story is not “Oliver Twist,” “ A Christmas Carol” or “Great Expectations.” So it was a little of a jump on our part, but I think that the idea of the audience truly participating for once and it’s something they haven’t seen a whole lot – it hasn’t been overdone - it's an opportunity to give it a try.”

Check out melonpatchplayers. org for a video of rehearsals and to get tickets.

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