The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues

Edwin Drood is Dead, But Community Theater is Alive and Well

The Tony award-winning musical may initially appear as your typical Dickensian play. However, the adaptation of the unfinished novel to the stage exaggerates Dickens’ already dramatic style.
(Courtesy of Parker Theater)


The Parker Theatre on South State Street presents “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” to center stage Sept. 23-Oct. 28. The book of the same name is the final piece of literature written by Charles Dickens before he died. However, it was never finished.

Given that it’s a murder mystery, the novel being unfinished makes for some difficulties when bringing it to life. Who is the murderer? Who is the detective? Who are the lovers? Despite the challenges, all three questions are answered by the end of each performance. 

A Perfect Mix of Dickens and Modernity

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a Tony-winning musical, may initially appear as your typical Dickensian play. It centers around confusing character relationships, murder and revenge. However, the adaptation to the stage exaggerates Dickens’ already dramatic style. It breaks the fourth wall, often to point out important clues regarding the mystery. It even makes light of Dickens’ tendency to include vaguely ethnic characters with no real origin or personality. The entire show has the audience laughing heartily, even though it is obvious that Dickens intended it to be a serious mystery with emotional interludes and a complicated love triangle.

Audience Interaction

This section contains spoilers regarding the end of the mystery, if you still want to see how everything plays out, you can buy your tickets here. Act fast as the show closes on Oct 28!

One of the best parts of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is the audience interaction. Before the show starts, the cast is out in the audience, talking to each other and to audience members.

The audience is asked to participate multiple times throughout the first act. They are even told to boo the main villain of the story, John Jasper (Spencer Hohl).

The most exciting part of the entire show is just after the beginning of Act II. The audience is asked to pick who they think the murderer is, as well as who is disguised as the detective and who will be destined to fall in love in the end. They do provide the option of going with the obvious choice of picking Jasper as the murderer, but it was clear that most people prefer to explore the other more subtle options. Due to this liberty of choice, once the votes are tallied, the actors must roll with the punches and act out the rest of the story in accordance with the decisions made by everyone else.

For the night that I attended the show, it was determined that Mr. Bazzard (Jonathan McBride) disguised himself as the detective Dick Datchery to expand his theatrical expertise, Helena Landless (Janzell Tutor) and Deputy (Caleb Ceran) were to fall in love and our murderer was the Reverend Crisparkle (Curt Jensen).

The Beauty of Community Theater

One of the best parts about community theater is the commitment everyone has to the project. The likelihood that the actors and producers are getting paid is slim. This means that everyone in the production has their own day jobs. They are working in the musical out of the love for theater and nothing else. 

This passion shines through in every aspect of the production. From costume design to the actual acting, everything feels intimate and full of love and dedication. Every character feels real and multidimensional. The set flows beautifully from scene to scene. Most importantly, it is obvious that everyone involved is having the time of their lives. This is what elevates a show from fun to exhilarating. 


[email protected]


Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Audrey Hall, Arts Writer
(she/they) Audrey Hall is a second-year student majoring in English and French. She was born and raised in Salt Lake City and has been a Utes fan since day one! In high school she developed a passion for both creative writing and news writing, which led her to write for the Skyline Horizon and eventually the Chronicle. In her free time, she plays water polo for the University's club team and plays a lot of video games.

Comments (0)

We welcome feedback and dialogue from our community. However, when necessary, The Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to remove user comments. Posts may be removed for any of the following reasons: • Comments on a post that do not relate to the subject matter of the story • The use of obscene, threatening, defamatory, or harassing language • Comments advocating illegal activity • Posts violating copyrights or trademarks • Advertisement or promotion of commercial products, services, entities, or individuals • Duplicative comments by the same user. In the case of identical comments only the first submission will be posted. Users who habitually post comments or content that must be removed can be blocked from the comment section.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *