The biggest mystery in Barn Players production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood is why anyone would want to miss such a spectacular show. Drood, A Musical by Rupert Holmes, opened Friday November 8 at the Barn Players Theater in Mission, Kan. The show based on the unfinished novel of Charles Dickens became the first Broadway musical produced with multiple endings. Audience participation is abundant in this musical as votes by the audience decides how the show proceeds in the second act.
The Barn production directed by Kipp Simmons, who directed Curtains for the Barn Players in 2012, is one of the most outstanding shows that the theatrical company has presented. Simmons was able to get everything possible out of the cast from superb facial expressions, body language comedic timing. Aided with magnificent costumes, designed by Julia Ras and the work of Dialect Coach Trevor French the audience transports to the 19th century England and the music hall entertainment that followed Dickens death.
Musical Director Kevin Bogan played piano as he conducts a brilliant off-stage orchestra that includes Tom Harrington and Rob Browning on bass, Ron Ernst on drums, Landon Vinson on violin, Jerry Old on horn and Lee Haake and Paul Cornelsen on trumpet.
Cast members of Drood do not play characters from the Dickens novel, but play music hall performers playing the parts of Dickens characters. Eric Magnus stars as Mr. William Cartwright who plays the Chairman in the Music Hall Royale production. Magnus has splendid comedic timing and a fine singing voice. He directs the cast on the Music Hall stage with precision, even taking over the role of mayor when an actor calls in sick.
Kay Noonan, who is portraying Miss Alice Nutting a male impersonator, plays the part of Edwin Drood. Noonan does a great job with the part of Drood and later Nutting. Part of the humor of the play is for the audience to try to imagine Nutting playing the male role, with a feminine physique and voice.
Jonathan Andrews plays the part of Clive Paget who is portraying John Jasper in the music hall production. He is hilarious in the role of the jealous uncle of Drood. Jasper gives music lessons to Rosa Bud (Drood’s fiancé). He explains to the audience that he suffers from torment from within, as he sings A Man Could Go Quite Mad. Andrews has a booming fantastic voice whether performing a whimsical tune or singing The Name of Love with Rosa and the company.
Megan Horsman, who plays Deirdre Peregrine playing Rosa Bud, stated most of her training, performing had been in opera, but she wanted to try a lighter show when she landed the part of Rosa Bud. She is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and graduated Magna Cum Laude from William Jewell College in 2005. Her training was clear from her first song, Moonfall, treating the audience to a breathtaking vocal performance.
From the characters in the audience before the show, to the first act, the voting on act two and the curtain coming down the show is leg-slapping funny, with musical genius performed by all the cast. The Mystery of Edwin Drood continues at the Barn Players through November 23.