HBHS theater presents ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’

Who killed Edwin Drood? That is the question that haunts the Victorian town of Cloisterham, England, in the HBHS Theatre Department’s winter production – and the question that you, the audience, must answer.

Edwin Drood (played by senior Ava Occhialini) is an ambitious but kind hearted businessman loved by all – except those who greedily desire the affection of his fiancee, Rosa Bud (sophomore Nicole Plummer). When Drood disappears after a particularly stormy Christmas Eve, the search is on for the fiendish killer, and no option is left unconsidered.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is based off of a Charles Dickens novel of the same name that the writer died before finishing. Thus, Rupert Holmes wrote the show so that the finale could contain over one hundred possible combinations. Throughout the performance, the cast of quirky characters provides plenty of leads to spur the audience’s creativity when it comes time to vote.

“Our senior class in particular is saturated in vocal talent and acting chops, so we needed to pick a large ensemble show that showcased the bel canto style that our students master,” said musical director Matthew Barbosa on choosing to perform this production.

“When (Barbosa and I) came in we wanted our first four or five years of musicals to be something that was different, something that wasn’t either traditionally done in high school or something that was more challenging. We wanted something that was easier musically so that we could focus on character development and bringing some of our student choreographers in to do dance,” director Gregory Parker added.

The cast eagerly took on the challenge of producing a show with an unpredictable ending and multi-dimensional characters, having to portray both a Victorian actor and said actor’s onstage character.

“It’s always amazing to see how much we end up accepting each other and try to bring out the best in one another. Even if a cast member may have trouble with character work like I did, we always come back to having fun and enjoying each other’s company,” said junior Frank Pugh, who plays Drood’s uncle, John Jasper. “I think ‘Drood’ is a good show to add to our repertoire. It has more adult references than most shows that our current directors have put on and it has quite a unique audience involvement that is unlike any show that I’ve been a part of at this school.”

The premiere performance of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is Friday, March 17 at 7 p.m. at the Music Hall Royale (a.k.a. The HBHS auditorium), and will also be playing March 18, 24 and 25. Tickets will be available at the door.

This column is written by Nicole Poitras, a senior at Hollis Brookline High School. She was among 51 high school journalists representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C., who attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington in June.