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Sedos Presents “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at the Bridewell Theatre, London

How are shows put together? Interviews with directors, musical directors and members of the creative team explain just how it's done.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" - Rehearsal Image

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" - Image by Stephen Russell, Sedos 2022. All rights reserved.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" - Image by Stephen Russell, Sedos 2022. All rights reserved.

Inspired by Dickens and Music Hall Traditions

Written by award-winning musician Rupert Holmes, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is inspired by British music hall traditions and Charles Dickens’ last novel (unfinished at his death). Whilst the original novel was rather bleak this show is most definitely not!

The Music Hall Royale Presents…

This lively whodunit begins with a Victorian musical troupe putting on their raucous production of Dickens’ mystery.

John Jasper, a Jekyll-and-Hyde choirmaster, is in love with his music student, Miss Rosa Bud. Miss Bud, however, is engaged to Edwin Drood, Jasper’s nephew.

On a stormy Christmas Eve Edwin disappears. Has he been murdered, and if so, by whom? As Dickens doesn’t tell us it up to us, the audience, to decide.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" – Image by Stephen Russell, Sedos 2022. All rights reserved.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" – Image by Stephen Russell, Sedos 2022. All rights reserved.

Director Mark Siddall Speaks to HubPages

Director Mark Siddall spoke exclusively to HubPages about some of the challenges in this production.

HubPages: You have appeared on stage with Sedos in “Reefer Madness”, “Candide”, “Pippin” and “Soho Cinders”. What’s it like to be on the production team?

Mark: It’s been a while since I last directed a show, and it’s been a real privilege to do so for Sedos for the first time. It’s been a great experience working with this team, and I’m so grateful to them all. It’s taken a lot of hard work, time and preparation, but we’ve had so many laughs along the way, and the cast have been so on-board for the journey, right from the first read-through.

HubPages: Were you looking for any particular abilities at the auditions?

Mark: We were looking for a cast who would throw themselves fully into the raucous, heightened atmosphere of Victorian Music Hall, and who would have the energy and confidence to bring the audience along for the ride. They have really embraced the silly comedy and melodrama of the piece, and added so much character to bring this world to life.

HubPages: It’s quite one thing to direct a show when you know exactly how it will end. But is it very different to direct a show when the audience decides the outcome?

Mark: The show’s unique twist could be daunting, but it’s also a huge selling point, and one of the main reasons I wanted to do the show in the first place. It is really cleverly written so that a clear structure is in place, even when we’re dealing with the unpredictable audience votes. We’ve been able to rehearse various different ending combinations in this framework, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to see how it all plays out!

HubPages: What were the most difficult aspects of this production from the cast's point of view, and how were they overcome?

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Mark: The framing of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is a show-within-a-show, so everyone has to play their Music Hall character and their Dickens character. It’s been a fun challenge to find those personas and make that feed into the performance. Through rehearsals, we included conversation games and even speed dating to get everyone more familiar with how their characters fit together.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" – Image by Stephen Russell, Sedos 2022. All rights reserved.

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" – Image by Stephen Russell, Sedos 2022. All rights reserved.

Issie Osborne, Musical Director, Discusses Some of the Challenges

HubPages: This is your first show with Sedos and you bring a wealth of experience after MD-ing many great shows with other companies. What inspires your direction of “Edwin Drood”?

Issie: I was really excited by the prospect of Musical Directing Edwin Drood because of the fun nature of not knowing which numbers will be performed on the night! We get to learn so much music (everyone has a different confession song) and we will find out on the day which song gets performed. The music in the show is very varied with lots of different styles, incorporating intimate duets, lovely solo numbers, and large-scale ensemble songs. That paired together with a fantastic orchestration it was a no brainer really, I had to get involved!

HubPages: When you held the auditions were you looking for any particular vocal qualities?

Issie: A huge part of pulling off this production musically is being able to embody the ‘over-the-top’ nature of music hall performances. We have had a “nothing is too much” attitude to rehearsals, and so in auditions I was really looking for people who weren’t scared to throw everything into their performances and be unique and original with their vocal choices. So much of this music is about storytelling, finding the comedy together with the drama, and it was so much fun watching all the auditions with this in mind.

HubPages: Were there any especially difficult musical challenges in this show?

Issie: A lot of the vocal harmonies in this show are quite intricate and complex which has been a good challenge throughout the rehearsal period. As well as this there are always a lot of tricky under-scorings that have to weave seamlessly into the story. I’m excited to work through these with the band but it could certainly be a challenge to get everything in the right place!

HubPages: Rehearsals for any production are always hard work but a lot of fun. What is your favourite thing about music rehearsals at Sedos?

Issie: This whole rehearsal period has been a joy and that is largely testament to our amazing cast. I love when we have singing rehearsals because the sound they produce is incredible. Everyone has worked so hard and it is so enjoyable to see people nailing harmonies that they might have found tricky at the start of the process.

The Hard Work Pays Off

As Issie said: “everyone has worked so hard” and it certainly shows in an outstanding Sedos production. At times the band is a little too loud and almost overcomes the performers but we overlook this in the excitement and energy that comes across the stage.

What’s Next

Sedos has a varied and exciting programme planned for 2022 including:

  • “American Idiot” – 4th-14th May 2022
  • “Love! Valour! Compassion!” – 5th-9th July 2022
  • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – 14th-24th September 2022
  • “Carrie: The Musical” – 25th-29th October 2022
  • “Amadeus” – 23rd November-3rd December 2022

In addition to fully staged shows, Sedos provides numerous opportunities such as their dance class Sedance, their improv group Simprov, and workshop productions including Play in a Day and Musical in a Weekend.

Further information about Sedos events and performances can be obtained from their website. “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” plays at the Bridewell Theatre until 26th March 2022.

Finding the Bridewell

© 2022 Frances Spiegel

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