Mystery with a twist kicks off IU Theatre 2014-15 Season

September 10, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind – IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance opens its 2014-15 season with The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical that invites audiences to vote on one of dozens of possible endings. The critically acclaimed Drood won the 1985 Tony Award for Best Musical, along with Best Book and Best Score. The show has enjoyed five major revivals, including the most recent 2012 Roundabout Theatre production.

But the story doesn’t begin – or end – there.

Charles Dickens began writing a serial novel entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood around 1869. The six published volumes were immensely popular in their time, and later became a forerunner to the modern mystery genre. But Dickens died in 1870, taking the identity of the plot’s murderer with him to the grave – an agonizing never-ending cliffhanger for 19th century readers.

In the years that followed, dozens of books attempted to decode this literary puzzle and even more novelists penned their own endings.

But in 1985 composer and playwright Rupert Holmes had a revolutionary idea: Why not let the audience decide? Borrowing from the English pantomime tradition of Dickens’s era, Holmes created a show within a show for this mystery within a mystery. In the Holmes version, a music hall company with a cast of misfits performs their own version of the novel. The result was a runaway success at the Delacorte Theatre in central park, before moving to Broadway and winning multiple Tony Awards.

“It’s an incredible challenge for our actors. They’re not only playing the character in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but they’re also playing an 1890’s actor trying to play that character,” explains director George Pinney, the head of IU’s BFA in Musical Theatre program. “Plus, they have to be ready for any number of possible endings. They really have to be on their toes.”

WHAT: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Rupert Holmes. Directed and choreographed by George Pinney. Musical direction by Terry LaBolt.

WHEN: September 26, 27, 30, and October 3 at 7:30 p.m. / Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Ruth N. Halls Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., Bloomington, IN

TICKETS: Regular admission is $25 for adults, $15 for students, $20 for seniors. 812.855.1103 or

Cast and creative team information is available at

For more information, contact Amy Osajima at


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