Friday, October 30, 2009

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

I've just spent the last three months of my life rehearsing and performing a great little (big) show called The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

It won the Tony Award for Best Musical (the benchmark for achievement in musical theatre) in 1986, an award which in the next two years was awarded to Les Misérables, and Phantom of the Opera, although it has pretty much slipped from the canon of musical theatre repetoire since then.

This is, I believe, largely owing to how difficult it is to stage. The thing about Drood is that it has a different ending every night - there are over 600 endings!

The musical is based on the novel Charles Dickens never finished. When he died in 1870, he was twenty chapters in to a serialised murder mystery, leaving 20 chapters and the resolution of the mystery unwritten and, well, ... a mystery.

Many academics and writers have attempted to "solve" The Mystery of Edwin Drood, including a psychic who apparently just asked Dickens' ghost what happened, but I think Rupert Holmes was the cleverest about it.

Holmes' musical adaptation of Drood is a camp nod to amateur theatre and the vaudeville tradition of the late nineteenth century, a play-within-a-play in which every actor is playing an actor playing one of Dickens' characters. Half way through Act II, the Dickens plotline falls apart and the audience is called upon to vote for an ending.

Four "ballots" are held over the next half hour or so: Who is the Disguised Detective, Dick Datchery? (don't you love the aliteration?) Who Murdered Edwin Drood? and then, at the conclusion of the first two revelations, Which Two Characters Will Fall in Love?

There are five possible Datcherys, eight possible Murderers, and eleven possible lovers (three female, eight male) which add up to over six hundred combinations of endings. A pretty epic task for a young amateur cast.

I played Miss Janet Conover, an experienced Actress, who plays Helena Landless, a Ceylonese noblewoman who accompanies her twin brother Neville to England in order to escape a shady past.

During the run, I was Dick Datchery twice, and a lover once. In fact, the night I was a lover, my male lover was Alex, who played Neville. Mmm, incest. It was hilarious and disturbing.

Anyway, I just had the greatest experience doing Drood, and I wanted to share some of the AMAZING show shots taken by the very talented Victoria Nelson. Stalk her on Facebook, tell her she should start a blog/website to showcase the photography she and her twin sister, Felicity (also very talented) do.

Mr. Harry Milas (the magician of my previous post) as the Chairman. He was a legend.
Me, with Alex (Neville) and Lizzie (Edwin), explaining the death of Dickens to the audience.
The Voting for the female Lover. Naomi (Rosa Bud), Marina (Princess Puffer) and myself, with Andy as Mr. James Throttle, the mentally handicapped Stage Manager.
My very talented twin - twin in the show, soul twin in real life, Alex.
Alex, confessing that it was HE who murdered young Edwin Drood.
The climactic scene just before Drood vanishes in Act I - with the incredible song "No Good Can Come From Bad" aka the crunchy crunchy close harmony death song. Heh.
Me having a little angst in "No Good Can Come From Bad". Alex on the left, Naomi on the right.
Roman (with RIDICULOUS hair), playing the Reverend Crisparkle, blesses the meal in "No Good Can Come From Bad".
I yell at Harry for a while, then he calls me a bitch and I glare for a bit.
The gorgeous female "Moonfall" quartet. Felicity, Naomi, myself and Minna.
And here's Roman as the murderer. He was truly truly scary.
What musical is complete without an epic kick-line?
... or side-stepping, top-hat miming?
Harry and Roman have a moment.

I am so proud of everyone in the cast, and so happy that I got to perform again... it might be the last time I get to for a very long time.

King of Diamonds

My dear friend Harry dropped over the most amazing book about magic tricks. I've been completely obsessed with magic and illusions since I started watching Jonathan Creek a few weeks ago.

I can't imagine why, can you? ...
Anyway, this book is awesome but I am SO TERRIBLE at the card-flipping thing...
I learned one trick, practiced it a couple of times, bamboozled my brother and then tried it on my dad. He was fairly unimpressed. And even the brother figured it out the second time.
Is this your card? No? Oh. (shit.) Hang on!
Is THIS your card? Still no?
I'm loving the book, but I might have to give up on the actual practice...

Cabin Fever

I'm being held captive.

... not really.

I have whooping cough and therefore am being literally quarantined in my house with no visitors for a whole week. I'm officially half way through that period of isolation and today I ventured outside for the first time.

It's funny, all I did was hobble around the back garden and I feel completely reborn. Look how lovely and sunny it's been today!

I had a nice sit in the sun and it was so lovely... Just before I took a (very) short stroll around the garden...

Oh, do you like my pyjama pants? They're so old and comfy, perfect for a week like this!
This week will be a good one for re-connecting with El Bloggo. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This is Patt.

Patt is my awesome friend. Look at his blog. It's funny and sweet and clever, just like him.

Consistency etc.

I'm going to blog more regularly. Yes I am. Except that right now the only thing I'm going to do is a "stuff about meeeee" quiz. Sorry about that.

Ahem, anyhow...

What is your current obsession/s?Currently/for several years: Stephen Sondheim and all his works. Oh my goodness. I adore him.

What is the most interesting thing that you will do today?
Write 1500 words on the appropriation of A Midsummer Night's Dream from play to modern opera. You wondered why I was posting, and now you know.

What's for dinner?
Lasagne and greek salad. Om nom nom.

What would you eat for your last meal?I'd start with my dad's pumpkin soup with sour cream, follow it with a main of cheese and spinach tortellini with peas and pesto cream (with nice white wine) and a desert of Roman's lemon pudding with lots of cream and fruit, and a big glass of the lemon, lime, and gin drink that my dear friend Naomi has perfected. The fact that I was about to die would make the massive amounts of cream and cheese in that meal less worrying to me.

What's the last thing you bought?
A yellow iced smiley-face cookie for my darling lovelorn Patrick.

What are you listening to right now?Sweeney Todd, Broadway Revival recording. The Johanna Quartet. Oh my goodness. Love.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
I'd have the Tardis, so I could go between elegant but homely terraces and apartments in Sydney (where I live... I'm very lucky), Melbourne, London, Vienna, Paris, and New York.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
New York, to catch a Broadway matinee of a new musical.

Which language would you like to learn?Welsh, I must learn Welsh before I die.

What's your favourite quote, for now?
Oh me oh my. Too many to think of. I'm a big libretto-quoter, rather than a person-quoter. This is my favourite piece of poetry, from Sondheim's (der) Sunday in the Park With George.

And when the woman that you wanted goes,You can say to yourself, "Well, I give what I give."
But the women who won't wait for you knowsThat, however you l
There's a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,Finishing a hat...
Starting on a hat..
Finishing a hat...
Look, I made a hat...Where there never was a hat...

What is you favourite colour?
It changes from hour to hour. Right now it's dark, burnished orange. Tomorrow it might be teal, or Sweeney-red, or forest green...

What is your favourite piece of clothing from your own wardrobe?I love my long, mint-green and white vintage dress I found at Rozelle markets right now. I do generally love long dresses. They hide my physical shortcomings and make me feel floaty and faerie-ish.

What is your dream job?
West-End producer.

What is your favourite fabric?
Naomi just gave me a beautiful grey silk scarf. So silk, today.

If you had $100 what would you spend it on?A nice dinner date with my darling boy.

Describe your personal style.
Heh. What a question. Anything that makes me look tall. Subtle vintage, lots of colour, but not a big mash of too many colours. I like to power-dress but rarely actually do it.

What are you going to do after this?
Aforementioned 1,500 words. And possibly go for a run.

What are your favourite films?Y Tu Mama Tambien, Akira, The Queen, Frost/Nixon, Up (so good, go see it), Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Favourite fruit?
Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries. Anything red.

What inspires you?
Very good music, and very good theatre. People. Traffic stopping for ambulances.

Your favourite books?Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Do you collect anything?
Owl things. Clothes that don't fit. Dust, according to my mother.

What are you currently reading?
The libretto of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream
Go to your book shelf, take down the first book with a red spine you see, turn to page 26 and type out the first line.
"... what I thought, I am sure it would move you. Forgive me, and believe that I cannot help telling you this, I live". - Love Letters, compiled by Antonia Fraser

What makes you follow a blog?
Shiny pictures or a good sense of humour.

What society would you most like to join?
Musical Theatre Society? I'm the president of one.
What is one thing you did as a child that you miss doing now?
Climbing trees!

If you could travel back in time and live in a certain period when would it be?
New York, 1957, to witness the birth of modern musical theatre with West Side Story.

Alexander and I in rehearsal.