When my producing colleagues, Nick Corley and Jono Mainelli, and I decided to mount a production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood for the 2012 season, we knew we had quite a challenge ahead of us! Drood has a large cast, a number of set locations, dance numbers and to top it all off - about 35 possible different endings! The audience gets to choose how this unfinished Charles Dickens novel ends and the cast has to learn all the possible combinations of chosen villain and story outcome! And all of this had to happen on our tiny, postage- stamp, Skinner Barn stage!
As is usual for a production with a large cast, we knew we had to anchor several of the key roles with capable professionals who could carry the show. One of these key roles is the character John Jasper and we immediately knew that NYC actor, James Sasser, (our Count the season before in A Little Night Music), was our man. Fortunately, James was available and willing to tackle the role and, of course, he looked forward to escaping the NYC summer heat to spend six weeks in Vermont.
The musical uses the device of a story within a story: a touring theater troupe, the Theater Royale Music Hall Company, have endeavored to put on the first ever musical production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The real-life actors get to play both the actors of this second-rate touring troupe and the characters in the Dickens story. Fun. And confusing! And, challenging!
I got to take on the role of The Chairman, who acts as MC for the evening as well as playing the part of Mayor Sapsea in the Dickens story. This character never stops talking! What a perfect role for me!