Serial Cover for The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

I saw The Mystery of Edwin Drood in New York last weekend, almost by accident.  It turned out that the friend I was visiting was doing the lighting.  It was a lot if fun, especially since we all got to go backstage afterwards with her and see the mechanics of the show.  The adaptation was done as a play within a play.  The frame narrative was set in the style of a Victorian music hall, with a lot of audience participation, including picking the ending of Drood.  My friend tells me the same combination of endings is rarely picked, which is neat.

One thing that surprised me though, was that Dickens wasn’t really advertised as a selling point for the show, though the set had a very Dickensian Christmas feel.  You had to really dig in the program to see that the novel was written by Dickens.  Now, I can see not advertising The Woman in White as by Wilkie Collins, but Dickens I would think would have enough cachet to get top billing.

Have you been to any Victorian musicals lately? Or ever?  What do you think makes a good adaptation?  And is it the authors and novels or just the Victorian feel that is the draw?  My friend suggested that most people who go to a show like Drood are theatre enthusiasts rather than Dickens enthusiasts, so perhaps it’s the Victorian feel, especially around the holidays….  I do often have the urge to watch Oliver! (1968) around this time of year.


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