The Mystery of Edwin Drood's Diary

as recorded by Kaytie Lee

Monday December 17th : opening night tomorrow ... !

Sunday saw us get into the Theatro Technis, which is now thoroughly transformed from a community hall into The Music Hall Royale, complete with holiday garlands, red velvet curtains and a gorgeous stage. The lights are hung, the orchestra seating in place (including the piano) and the cabaret tables are ready for patrons with mulled wine.

Aside from the unexpected downpour that had us racing to get the last of the set inside and under cover, it went without a hitch.

Come the early evening, the actors were sent home for an early night (by way of the pub) while the crew worked their magic.

As I write this, we are in the midst of the cue-to-cue. Somehow, the right lighting makes it all the more real! We'll bring it all together at the dress rehearsal tonight, for Tuesday the final piece of the performance arrives ... our lovely audience.

Monday December 10th : just days to go ... !

We returned to the costume store to parade our production looks and to finesse the last details. Without giving too much away, here are some interesting bits to look for: matching red braces for Durdles and Son, blue bows on the stockings worn by Miss Alice Nutting, and every broach, bracelet, and choker on the ladies. Of course, I wouldn't want to give everything away. Let us just say that the transformation of Michael Bettell into Mr. Crisparkle is not to be missed!

There are just a few more rehearsals to go before we move into the Theatro Technis this weekend. Director Ruth Sullivan will be putting us through our paces as we run the show just as we will perform it for our first audience, next Tuesday night!

See you all soon...

Monday November 26th : three weeks to go ... !


How delightful to arrive at rehearsal and hear the lush sound of an orchestra playing our song! Last weekend, our music director, Ed Bell, gathered the pit musicians together for their first play-through of the score. The cast was rehearsing in an adjacent room, so when I had a stretch of down-time, I crept in to listen as they rehearsed Moonfall. It sounded perfect, and was all I could do to keep from jumping in to sing.

(A delightful surprise was discovering Jonathan Norris at the trombone : he also plays our ever-prepared yet ever-unlucky Mr. Bazzard. A man of many talents, to be sure.)

Conductor!When the song ended, Ed complimented the musicians on their sight-reading. They'd never seen the music before that morning, and they played it perfectly!

Yes, people, the orchestra is bringing it - you will be impressed. In about a week we'll have our sitzprobe, the first rehearsal that the singers and the orchestra come together for the first time. It's always my favorite part of the process.

Ed, who has delighted and embarrassed certain cast members by composing songs about them on the spot, has been an excellent director for those of us who come to music from an unstudied background, except for one thing : I simply cannot get my head around the tongue-twisting vocal warm-up of his that begins "Popocatépetl is a big volcano far away in Mexico ..."

Ah, well, practice will hopefully make perfect...

Monday November 19th : four weeks to go ... !

Costumes!  Costumes!

So, I've tried on the costume ... I love it!

I was called to the Tower Theatre Company's costume store, kept in an amazing room adjacent to the Bridewell Theatre. The room is cavernous, full but not chaotic, with costume racks organized by type and era. Quite impressive, really, and it was all I could do to keep from rummaging through boxes labelled "ladies shoes, 20s & 30s" or "bathing costumes" or picking my way through ladies costumes.

Ruth Anthony, to whom 'I will be as good a friend as such a mite of a thing can be' in Drood!, helped me lace into my corset. (Oh, my, it has been a while!) She was already kitted out in quite an exotic frock, perfect for Helena Landless. We rifled through the racks that David Taylor and Lynda Twidale had prepared for each cast member.

'I thought this one would be yours,' Ruth said as she showed me a deep burgundy skirt covered in a velvet rose pattern. But no, it was ear-marked for Anna Fiorentini, our Princess Puffer, and my goodness, it's perfect for a character paid with 'The Wages of Sin'!

Lynda very kindly helped me into the Rosa Bud costume and did the fastenings up the back. I won't give it away, but when David saw it, he nodded and smiled (even though I was wearing my glasses and my hair was more scruffy- London than Edwardian-Music-Hall!).

Thank you, David and Lynda, for putting together a fantastic wardrobe for us. We're going to Look Great!

Next time : Coming up soon ... Sounding Great and Acting Great.

Monday November 12th : five weeks to go ... !

The cast

A month into rehearsals! We've learned the notes, we've blocked most of the scenes, and now we're all knee-deep into line-learning. We stumbled through Act One the other day, and it was great fun to see all the bits blocked when I wasn't called :) We're going to have a show, people! I've been impressed by the dedication of cast and crew, and everyone has been lovely. And giggly.

Drood! is a tricky one. Every actor has two roles: one, the character out of the Dickens' novel, and two, the Music Hall Royale character who is playing the Dickens character. The show you'll see is a show within a show ... It's the Inception of musicals, sans Leonardo DiCaprio, and you, our delightful audience, get to choose the ending.

Playing two roles has made for quite a bit of fun in the pub afterwards, as we banter about back stories of our Music Hall characters. Apparently, the Music Hall Royale is quite the scandalous company ;) In the photo, Fran Rafferty, Dom Ward, and Michael Bettell plan their off-stage schemes over their pints.

Soon to come : fun with the first look at costumes! For now, I'm off to practice swooning...