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Dickens’ murder mystery to be solved in Columbus production

In Charles Dickens’ novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Drood’s murder wasn’t the only mysterious part. As the novel was never finished, the ending itself remains unknown.

Ohio State’s only student-run musical theater organization, Off the Lake Productions, will carry that mystery over into their performance of the musical “Drood (The Mystery of Edwin Drood),” by allowing audience members to vote on the ending of each performance.  

The show will run Saturday at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., and May 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. in Hitchcock Hall.

“It won a Tony Award in ’86 and it just got lost in time,” said director Brandi Harris, a third-year in fashion and retail studies. Harris also said there are three possible endings to each performance.

Audience members vote on the ending of their choice and decide everything from who falls in love to who killed Drood, Harris said.

“Drood (The Mystery of Edwin Drood)” is formatted as a play within a play. The actors on stage are playing the roles of Victorian-era actors in the musical ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood,'” Harris said.

“It’s poking fun at Dickens’ original novel.”

Patrick Laycock, a second-year in business, narrates the play.

“He (Laycock) is basically on stage for the entire three hours,” Harris said.

Harris said Laycock was not expecting to land such a big role in the play.

“I was making him read lines at auditions and he would just roll his eyes,” she said. “But he’s perfect for the part.”

Laycock said it turned out to be easier than he anticipated.

“When I first got the book I was like, ‘I need to just sit down and do this,’ because the whole second act is me talking,” Laycock said. “But I would just read them (lines) and it really wasn’t that hard.”

Musical director Brittany Harris, a third-year in voice performance, said the music is more classical than previous musicals Off The Lake and OSU have performed, such as “Spring Awakening” or “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“This music is actually more classical because it’s an older show,” Brittany Harris said. “It’s darker than that (Spring Awakening) music.”

Brandi Harris said the pit for the show is the largest it’s ever been.

Tyler Rogols, an OSU alumnus of Off the Lake Productions, will be conducting the pit for this show because of the large amount of people contributing, Brittany Harris said.

“I’m only vocals, I’m not an instrumentalist, so we reached out to him,” Brittany Harris said.

Choreographer Brandon Gano, a second-year in biology, said creating movement for a darker show was the most difficult part of his role.

“I knew going into it the premise was a murder mystery,” Gano said. “And I was like, ‘I don’t really know how to choreograph for a dismal dance. No one’s going to want to watch that. I don’t know how to make that exciting.”

Gano said his goal for the choreography in the show was to act as a way to balance the dismal subject with fun and lively steps.

“It’s all really music hall-y and kind of dance hall-y,” Gano said. “So it’s all really fun and lively and high-energy.”

The production is made up of 35 cast members, 15 crew members and 21 pit members. Brandi Harris said she expects about 400 people to attend the show on any given night.

Admission is one canned good at the door.

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