‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ in Lorton

‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ in Lorton

Light-hearted musical mystery with vital audience participation at Workhouse Arts Center

“We wanted to provide Northern Virginia audiences with a unique evening of musical storytelling.  So we selected ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ by Rupert Holmes for our next production.” said Joseph Wallen, Artistic Director, Workhouse Arts Center. “It has an unusual opportunity for the audience to vote on certain aspects of the performance including the identity of the murderer.” 

Holmes’ based his Tony Award winning musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. “Holmes asks the audience to help solve the crime.” added Wallen. 

“There are a handful of moments towards the conclusion of the show, where the audience is asked to vote on the ‘real’ identities of the characters and the performers are then tasked with completing the remainder of the musical using the solution provided by the audience.” indicated Wallen. There are dozens of possible endings; each of which requires the cast, crew and band must be ready to implement. There are over two dozen witty musical numbers.

Dickens died before it was completed so his death left many questions to answer. The pop songwriter Rupert Holmes (“Escape (The Pina Colada Song”)), decided to write the musical as a playful who-done-it. The show earned Holmes the Tony Award for both book and score, as well as Drama Desk Awards for lyricsmusic, the book and orchestrations, among various other honors.

“The style of performance is done in the manner of traditional British Music Hall, a relative of American vaudeville,” explained Liz Colandene, Workhouse Performing Arts Coordinator.  “There is an emcee (The Chairman) that introduces scenes, directly interacts with the audience- completely breaking down any idea of the ‘fourth wall.’ Some scenes even have the performers in the audience areas, playing with patrons during the show.”  There are more than two dozen musical numbers.

The Workhouse Arts Center production of “Drood” is directed by Workhouse veterans Danilo Stapula, with music direction by Paige Austin Rammlekamp and choreography by Stefan Sittig.

Inviting audiences to the light-hearted “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Colandene added that the Workhouse looks forward to the audience participation; “the interactive nature of ‘Drood’ will make guests feel as if they are part of the show.”  After all, no Workhouse theatre patron is more than 50 feet from the performance area, adding to the in-person energy and the ever-changing possible answers to who slew the character Edwin Drood.

Where and When: Workhouse Arts Center presents “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at W3 Theatre, 9518 Workhouse Way, Building W3, Lorton, Va. 22079. Performances: Weekends Jan. 7 to Jan. 23, 2022. Fri & Sat at 8 p.m. Sun at 2 p.m. Tickets: Military (active duty or retired) and Seniors (62 and over): $25. Student (with ID): $25. General Admission $30.  Visit www.workhousearts.org or call 703-584-2900. Notes: Due to some suggestive humor, parental guidance is suggested. All persons attending will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination.