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Theatre Raleigh’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood Is the Most Fun You’ll Have All Year


The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a fun, interactive show, based largely on the unfinished Charles Dickens mystery of the same name. To make it even more fun and to get audiences out in time for a late dinner, Theatre Raleigh, as the opener to its annual Hot Summer Nights series, has developed a self-proclaimed “scaled down” version of the show with writer and composer Rupert Holmes. And, while the play might be a little shorter than usual, there is certainly nothing “scaled down” about this production. It’s so full of energy, comedy, lively performances, and this special, wonderfully fun feel that it’s likely to be the best time you have at the theatre all year!

From the very start of the performance, it’s obvious that this show will be an…immersive experience, to put it mildly. The actors, who are putting on a play within a play courtesy of the fictional Music Hall Royale theatre company, make no bones about involving audience members in the action. Actors sit on the laps of good-natured patrons and tell bawdy jokes, making for a wonderfully uncomfortable and wildly exciting atmosphere from the get-go.

Another thing that stands out from the start is DJ Salisbury’s awesome choreography. As is the case with his direction in general, every inch of the space is utilized to the fullest during dance numbers, making each number seem larger, louder, and more “in your face” (in a good way!) than one might expect given the intimate nature of the Kennedy Theatre.

The actors also play a part in promoting the over-the-top, high-energy feel of the production. John Paul Almon carries all the crazy action well in his role as the Chairman/Mr. William Cartwright while the always-energetic Lauren Kennedy is both dashing and diva-esque in her respective roles of Edwin Drood and Miss Alice Nutting. Sally Mayes kicks up the humor as The Princess Puffer/Miss Angela Prysock, and Robert Kaufman is equally entertaining as the drunken Durdles/Mr. Nick Cricker. Last (but not least), Alexandra May gives a lovely and lovely-voiced performance as Rosa Budd, who turned out to be the murderer at the opening night performance.

And, for those who haven’t seen this fine show, that’s not a spoiler. Part of the magic of The Mystery of Edwin Drood is that the villain, as well as other small parts of the show, can change from night to night, based on audience votes. Votes are handled quickly and easily at this performance with patrons ripping off a name from an insert in their programs and placing it in baskets that are passed out. All of this is accomplished in only 90 minutes with no intermission, quite the impressive feat.

But then, everything about this performance is impressive. From the costumes to the staging to the fun, frenzied atmosphere, this production will make viewers feel like they’ve traveled back in time and taken part in something very real, and theatre doesn’t get much better than that.

Theatre Raleigh presents THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, starring Lauren Kennedy and Sally Mayes, at 8 p.m. May 13, 2 and 8 p.m. May 14, 3 p.m. May 15, 8 p.m. May 18-20, 2 and 8 p.m. May 21, and 3 p.m. May 22 in the in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $32.50 ($30.50 seniors), except $40 for bar-table seating.

BOX OFFICE: 919-832-9997,, or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-832-9997 or

SHOW: and






The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished 1870 novel): (Wikipedia).

Charles Dickens (English novelist, 1812-70): (Wikipedia).

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985 Broadway and 1987 West End musical): (official web page), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Rupert Holmes (music, lyrics, and book): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

DJ Salisbury (Manhattan, NY director and choreographer): (official website), (Facebook page), and (Twitter page).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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