Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 9, 2001

Community theater is back in HL with 'Edwin Drood'

By Lynda Jensen

Once again, a group of talented local players will converge to perform this summer, two weekends in a row, at the Howard Lake auditorium.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood," will be performed Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14 at 7:30, with a Sunday matinee July 15 at 2 p.m. and again the next weekend, Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m., Metcalf said.

The venture is funded by the Central Minnesota Arts Board, said Director Dave Metcalf.

The play's setting is Victorian London, Metcalf said.

"There's a lot of music hall, song and dance schtick," he said. Victorian plays generally feature one player who is a male impersonator, which is typical of this time period, Metcalf said. An example of this is Edwin Drood, who is played by actress Jodi Kyllonen, he said.

Eight different endings for the play

"Edwin Drood" is the first and only murder mystery play written by Charles Dickens before his death. The play features eight different endings, with the choice being made by the audience.

The reason for different endings was because Dickens died two thirds of the way through writing it, Metcalf said.

Dickens never leaked the ending to anyone before his untimely death, although he did manage to identify suspects in his play, Metcalf said.

This means that the players must practice eight different endings - and since the murderer must sing a song of confession, be prepared to be fingered as the guilty party, ready to sing, Metcalf said.

How did the different endings get into the picture?

Apparently, a popular singer and songwriter by the name of Rupert Holmes loved to host unusual parties. One party he hosted was like a mystery-dinner theater style, which featured this play, Metcalf said.

His guests thought it was so wonderful that he should make something of it - so he did. Holmes wrote a play about Dickens' unfinished novel that was performed on Broadway.

More than that

That isn't all the audience chooses in Dickens' play. It also gets to do matchmaking with the men and women in the play, who end up singing love songs to each other.

In fact, one time that he remembers, the audience dictated that a brother and sister in the play sing to each other, which they grudgingly did, Metcalf said.

"The audience may match the blustery grave digger with a beautiful young woman, or a crusty old madam who operates the local opium den with the reverend," Metcalf said.

The play incorporates the audience at every turn, Metcalf said.

This year, the play is the work of several people, including Metcalf and his wife Linda, as well as Shirley Olson who wrote for the grant, and Margaret Marketon .

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