Arts and EntertainmentThespians get meta in latest musical

“There you are, Edwin Drood!” A look behind the curtain of Trinity’s next mainstage performance
Maya Neufeld-WallOctober 31, 2019293 min
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photo by Mona Mirpour

For most Trinity students, Wednesday nights consist of dinner, class and countless hours in the library studying. However, for a select few dedicated thespians, 9:15 p.m. signals the beginning of an evening of singing, dancing and acting. In the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center, these diligent actors begin a night’s rehearsal for the fall musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

The show is based on an unfinished Charles Dickens novel of the same name and is a classic “show-within-a-show.” Drood is a murder mystery where the audiences participates and votes on the murderer. The meta aspect the musical achieves is through the Trinity actors playing the roles of the company for London’s Music Hall Royale, who are performing “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Each Trinity actor plays two roles; one is the actor in the Music Hall’s company, and the second is the role the Music Hall actor portrays in the musical.

Before the rehearsal officially starts, actors run through choreography outside of the theater. They work through steps guided by the show’s dance captains, junior Mathilde Tacon and first-year Megan McGuire. Other actors peruse their scripts and sheet music and chat among themselves as they prepare themselves for the next few hours of work. Most nights, the actors are called, required to be at rehearsal, from 7 to 11 p.m.

“I know it sounds scary,” said sophomore Wren Ramos, who is the role of Stage Manager/Ensemble in the play. “But our director [Dr. Nathan Stith] is really respectful of our time. He breaks it up as much as possible. If he doesn’t need you for a number, he’s not going to call you. Usually, we are mostly called for some things.”

First-year cast member Andrew Walker said that the components of rehearsal vary from week to week.

“Last week we were doing almost entirely choreography. We would start with choreography and work through almost an entire song. One day we did an hour of my dance break, and the rest was Off to the Races, closing number,” Walker said.

The show is full of choreography and to teach the cast, Trinity’s Theater Department has hired Daniel Gold, a member of the national tour of Miss Saigon.

“Daniel’s choreography has been intense,” said junior Trace Glorioso, who plays the role of John Jasper/Clive Paget. “He has really brought that Broadway sort of experience to our theater. It’s very hardcore, I have never learned such hard choreography before and I’m really excited. This is great experience, and it sets the bar really high to the expectations of the real world.”

This week, the cast’s focus is on running full numbers and scenes.

“This is the first time we have really gotten deep into most of these scenes,” said Walker. “We’ve done a couple of runs, but now we are supposed to be off-book.” According to Walker, the actors will work on scenes and music to perfect it before tech week.

Inside the theater, principals characters run scenes and discuss their intents with the director, Nathan Stith.

“We have conversations with Nathan about how our characters fit into the plot,” Walker said, who plays the role of Philip Bax/Bazzard. “We talk about our accents, whether they should be cockney or standard British or something different based on how we perceive our character and how they fit into the plot.”

Dr. Stith alternates working with small groups of actors and with the entire ensemble practicing dances.

Actors get a break between numbers to sit and get water, but the rehearsal is prompt and moves forward with intention.

The show is full of characters that challenge and push the actors to expand their theatrical muscles.

“I had never played the romantic ,suave lead male before,” Glorioso said, “So I’m very excited about this opportunity, I’m very thankful. Because I’m one of those actors who plays really big and over the top, I feel like John Jasper was an awesome role to challenge myself with because it was a character type that I was not familiar with.”

At the end of the rehearsal, the actors sit down in the plush auditorium chairs, breathing hard from working through electrifying dance numbers.

They also begin to chat to one another about notes from the director. Due to the large time commitment, actors have to learn to balance theatre, school and life.

“I balance rehearsal and my regular life because I love it so much. If you really care about something, you find a way to make it work,” Ramos said.

As to whether the time constraints that theatre pushes on actors is worth it, Ramos was quick to explain why it is.

“I’m with people that I love and I’m doing something that I can do for four hours and not be tired. It makes me happy, and it’s [purpose is] to make something really awesome.”

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is off to the races on Friday, November 18 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at: tinyurl.com/trinitysupperclub.

Maya Neufeld-Wall

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