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Drood, originally entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is a 1985 musical comedy with music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations by Rupert Holmes, based on the unfinished novel of the same name by Charles Dickens. Because the source material was a murder mystery with an unfinished ending, the musical determines the ending each night by Audience Participation. The show uses the framing device of being a Show Within a Show, performed each night by supposed members of a Victorian music hall--which were popular around the time of Dickens' death--and is hosted by the Chairman, William Cartwright, who narrates the proceedings, plays one of the minor roles himself, and conducts the polling process by which the identity the titular character's murderer is decided. In addition, the audience also votes on which character turns out to be the mysterious detective Dick Datchery, and which two characters fall (sometimes suddenly) in love for the finale.

The original production won five Tony awards, and featured George Rose as the Chairman, Howard McGillin as the music hall's leading man and portrayer of John Jasper, and Betty Buckley as the guest artist and "male impersonator" playing Edwin Drood.

Provides the page quote for Two-Headed Coin.

Tropes used in Drood (theatre) include:


  • All Musicals Are Adaptations
  • Audience Participation
  • Author Existence Failure
  • Beware the Nice Ones: If Rosa Bud gets elected murderer.
  • BLAM Moment: Both the songs Never The Luck and Off To The Races come out of nowhere and add nothing to the plot.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Is actually one of the possible pairings. The actors traditionally keep as far apart as possible and give the audience a lecture about how sick they are.
  • Cast as a Mask: The same actress plays both Drood and Dick Datchery. However, the actors vote that Drood is in fact really dead, so they can't actually be the same person.
  • Chekhov's Gun / Red Herring: "Here, Ned, take my CAPED COAT." Could be an example of either, because half of the murderers did it because they mistook Drood for Jasper.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Pretty much Bazzard's whole shtick.
  • Crosscast Role: In a reference to Victorian theater, a "male impersonator" plays Drood.
  • Cut Song: Several, enough so that there are two popular versions of the show available. The most notable song in neither version is Crisparkle's song about his love for Rosa's mother. Ceylon usually gets cut in most modern adaptations in favor of A British Subject.
  • Dark Reprise: The solo "Moonfall" is a damn creepy song as is, but the whole thing goes even darker and over-the-top in the reprise.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "The Writing on the Wall"
  • Fake Nationality: Outside the Show Within a Show, the actors clearly have no idea what people from Ceylon are like, and hence, geographically untraceable accents!
  • Gender Bender: Drood, a male character, is traditionally played by a female actor. Just because. They do not try to hide it at all.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: The two characters who get voted to sing the duet often haven't talked to one another the whole show.
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "A Man Could Go Quite Mad" for Jasper
    • "The Wages of Sin" for Princess Puffer
    • "Two Kinsmen" and "Ceylon"/"A British Subject" count as We Are Songs for Jasper & Drood and Neville & Helena, respectively.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Some of Durdles' jokes--and it's even funnier that way.
  • The Ingenue: Rosa is the female one, Drood is the male one. Hey, but wait a second...
  • Insult Backfire: "You're next to an idiot!" "Why so I am! Pleased to meet you!"
  • Interactive Narrator: The Chairman, as part of the Show Within a Show conceit.
  • Large Ham: Nick Cricker, the actor playing Durdles, although any of the actors can be played this way.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Jasper/Rosa/Drood
    • Neville/Rosa/Drood
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "No Good Can Come From Bad", a fugue which introduces a separate musical motif for each of the singers. Each of those motifs is subsequently reprised in the appropriate character's murder confession.
  • Multiple Endings
  • Patter Song: "Both Sides of the Coin"
  • Show Within a Show: The show is a performance of musical version of the novel by the players of a Victorian music hall, and many of their conventions are employed in the story.
  • Schrodinger's Gun: When the show starts, the cast doesn't know how it will end.
  • Stalker with a Crush: John Jasper.
  • Two-Headed Coin: Gets its own song to Lampshade Hanging how everyone is playing two roles.
  • Villain Song: The confessions.
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