For Nick D’Amato, who plays Clyde Paget/John Jasper, the musical is a test of his ability to transform personal experience into a character who is love-obsessed with a woman who cannot stand him.
“This is a kind of Jekyll and Hyde character,” D’Amato said. “He (Jasper) is obsessed with his nephew’s fiancé.”
D’Amato, a senior, will attend Hudson County Community College next year before going to a four-year university to study theater. The role requires him to look back into his own life and see the woman he loved with someone else.
“How would I feel?” he said.
At the same time, Jasper loves his nephew, who is engaged to the woman Jasper loves.
“I see the nephew like a brother,” D’Amato said.
The two men like each other when it comes to anything other than the woman.
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is a musical that includes audience participation. Members of the British Music Hall Royale present Dickens’ unfinished tale of Edwin Drood’s mysterious disappearance. At the end of the story, the audience is invited to vote for the suspect they believe guilty of murdering Edwin Drood. With eight potential suspects, and several other twists and turns, the audience can expect to see a different and exciting new ending at each performance.
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is a production of the Bayonne High School Drama Society, directed by Tim Craig with vocal direction by Laura Craig, choreography by Lori Alexander, and Kelli McGovern, musical direction by Serge Puchinksy, and set design by Chris Wolfer and Alex Calianese.
“This production involves 45 talented high school students,” said Tim Craig. “In addition to the principle characters and ensemble members, we feature the Bayonne High School Dance Company in the production, as they truly add to the energy and impact of the performance.”
Craig said Drood is a unique musical because it involves audience participation.
“The ending of the show will likely be different each night, as the audience has the opportunity to vote and determine who the detective is, who the murderer is, and which couple ends up together. It will be funny and exciting to watch the story unfold each night,” Craig said. “Another exciting opportunity that the cast members have in this production is the chance to meet the composer of the musical himself, Mr. Rupert Holmes, who will visit Bayonne High School on Dec. 4. Not many high-school students can say that the Tony-Award-winning composer of their production attended a rehearsal and spoke with them about their performance. This is truly unique, and we are exceedingly grateful to Mr. Holmes for sharing his time with us.”
The pop songwriter Rupert Holmes wrote the book, music, and lyrics for this 1985 Broadway show and received two Tony Awards. The musical is based on the unfinished novel of Charles Dickens, who provided a plot outline for the final chapters in letters he sent to friends; he never divulged who the murderer was. The musical has become popular on the dinner-theater circuit where the audience gets to review the evidence.
Although the title is named after Edwin Drood, the story centers on his uncle,
choirmaster John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud, who can’t stand him. To complicate this already-complicated love triangle, Rosa has also attracted the ill-tempered Neville Landless. Neville’s twin sister, Helena, meanwhile has taken an extreme dislike to Drood.
So there are plenty of suspects when Drood mysteriously disappears, and like a game of Clue, there are plenty of potential murder weapons, and other items to hint at which of the characters finally did Drood in.
Samantha Kobryn, who plays Helena, describes her character as “the creepy mysterious twin sister” of a creepy Neville.
“I play a Middle Eastern woman and have to speak with an accent,” she said. “I’ve never had to speak with an accent in a production before.”
A sophomore at BHS, she said she is thinking about pursuing a career in theater.
Dominic Crisonino plays the narrator, someone who tries to keep the audience apprized of the ever-changing landscape of these complicated relationships. In the end, he moderates the solving of the crime as the audience decides which one of the characters actually did the deed. Crisonino describes his character as “loud and overly dramatic.”
Dickens, however, was not satisfied with a complex plot; he also had to provide us a very complex character in Edwin Drood, nephew of Jasper. In this play, the audience soon learns that the young man is actually being played by Miss Alice Nutting, male impersonator, who expresses to Jasper his/her, reservations about the arranged marriage to Rosa and his fears about his pending trip to Egypt after the wedding.
For sophomore Danielle Baran who must play Drood/Nutting this is a show within a show and a significant challenge. How to step into the role of a man?
“This is one of the most challenging roles I’ve played so far,” Baran said. “But it’s also a fun play because we get to interact with the audience.”
Performances are on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for Students/Seniors, $15 for Adults and can be purchased online at bhsdramasociety.com.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.