AUBURN – If you don’t like the way Community Little Theatre’s current production of “Drood” ends, you may have only yourself to blame.

After all, it’s that unusual Dickens-based musical with a finale chosen by the audience.

Nevertheless, it’s not the conclusion that counts. It’s the fun of getting there, and a highly entertaining cast makes CLT’s show a delight.

An unfinished mystery by Charles Dickens was reimagined as a music hall romp in 1985, and it scored a number of Tony awards. Under the direction of Mitchell Clyde Thomas, an exceptionally large cast and production crew translates it onto the local stage. The plot is secondary to the several wonderful performances delivered by new and veteran actors.

There are standouts in both lead and secondary roles.

Gregory Charette’s characterization of the Jekyll-and-Hyde duality of choirmaster John Jasper is excellent. His good-to-evil-to-good switches are frequent, often occurring in the same sentence.

Charette, a South Portland resident who has been in CLT’s “Grand Hotel,” “Bye, Bye Birdie” and “Scarlet Pimpernel,” roars through the lead role.

Emily Moore makes her CLT debut as Drood, a young man who is traditionally played by a female. Moore resides in the mid-coast area and has an extensive vocal and theatrical background.

Moore’s duets with Jasper, “Two Kinsmen,” and “Perfect Strangers” with Rosa Bud, Drood’s betrothed played by Rebecca Beck, showcase her fine voice.

Beck, also from the mid-coast region and trained in music and theater, is new to the CLT stage.

A third CLT newcomer and standout performer from the mid-coast is Tracy Kapocius. Her bawdy portrayal of Princess Puffer brought cheers from the audience with her excellent renditions of “The Wages of Sin” and “The Garden Path to Hell.”

Dan Crawford, CLT veteran, keeps the comedy and the plot’s mystery clues rolling along effectively. He teams with Charette for “Both Sides of the Coin,” a clever Gilbert and Sullivan-flavored patter song.

“Never the Luck” is a bittersweet, tongue-in-cheek ballad performed by Joel Biron. It’s a perfect number for his strong and clear voice. Biron, a graduate of Edward Little High School, began performing 11 years ago with Thomas, who is well known for his work in training young people for theater. Biron’s role as Bazzard is an audience favorite.

John B. Nutting just about steals the show as Durdles, the likeable gin-fueled cemetery keeper. He is well-supported by Joshua Michael Harris as his young deputy.

Marylyn Scott and Boyd Scott also turn in fine performances as the brother and sister newly arrived from Ceylon, who are taken under the wing of the Reverend Crisparkle, well-played by theater veteran Michael Litchfield. It’s Boyd Scott’s first appearance on a stage, and he is excellent in the dramatic role of Neville. Marylyn Scott’s vocals are outstanding, and Litchfield delivers his usual skillful comedic portrayal.

Two other performers rate very high marks for their appearances. They are Vincent Ratsavong and Leah Fournier, whose excellent ballet talent is featured in two crowd-pleasing numbers. Ratsavong choreographed the show and Fournier has appeared in CLT’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Kiss Me, Kate.”

“Drood” has an extremely convoluted story line. Its beautiful music was written by Rupert Holmes, best known for a hit song several years ago, “Escape – the Pina Colada Song.” Holmes also wrote the lyrics and the book, and he orchestrated the music for “Drood.” It’s a feat seldom accomplished by one person, and it’s reported that he did his original three-and-one-half-hour version solo when he introduced it to Broadway producer Joseph Papp.

It was trimmed down, but there is still a lot of dialogue. The CLT cast tended to rush the words, and with the use of British accents, it wasn’t easy to follow.

It doesn’t matter. The songs, the comedy and the dancing are the real reason to see “Drood.”


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