In this who­dunit, au­di­ence mem­bers help Dick­ens write end­ing to ‘Drood’

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The lat­est Mid-Columbia Mu­si­cal The­atre show gives new mean­ing to the term “who­dunit” – even the ac­tors don’t know the iden­tity of the mur­derer day-to-day.

That’s be­cause “The Mys­tery of Ed­win Drood” doesn’t have a set end­ing. In­stead, it’s de­ter­mined by the au­di­ence.

It’s part of the fun of the show, which opens Fri­day at the Uptown The­atre in Rich­land.

“It could lit­er­ally have a dif­fer­ent end­ing each night,” said Emily Rich­man, di­rec­tor. “Who did it will be dif­fer­ent every night.”

Per­for­mances are at 7:30 p.m. Fri­day and Satur­day, Nov. 16-17 and 23-24.

The mu­si­cal de­buted on Broad­way in the mid-1980s, win­ning five Tony Awards.

It’s based on the fi­nal novel of Charles Dick­ens, who died be­fore he fin­ished writ­ing the story.

“When we get to the part where he stopped, the au­di­ence has to help,” Rich­man said.

If you’re the type who fears au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion, don’t worry: it’s not a put-you-on-the-spot type of show.

But the chance to be in­volved and help di­rect the story makes for an en­gag­ing and mem­o­rable time, Rich­man said.

And the ac­tors have risen to the chal­lenge of learn­ing mul­ti­ple end­ings, she said. Sev­eral also play mul­ti­ple parts, as “Drood” fea­tures a show-within-a-show.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about the way the cast is gelling,” she said. “They’ve all jumped in.”

The cast in­cludes El­iz­a­beth An­der­sen, Scott Bay, Kory Carterby, Kela Dyck, Han­nah Evans, Betsy Flow­ers, Gar­rett Heiman, Luis Her­nan­dez-Merja, Av­ery Hor­ton, Davin Jame­son, Abi­gail Merz, Aaron-Michael Sin­tay, Alex Vey­sey, Karen Wal­ley, Mary We­ber and Chuck Wo­jnowski.

Katie New­man is di­rect­ing as­sis­tant, with Ben Wal­ley as mu­sic di­rec­tor and Katie Evans as chore­og­ra­pher.

Tick­ets start at $15 for adults, $13 for se­niors and $10 for stu­dents.

They’re avail­able at Tri-Cities Academy of Bal­let and Mu­sic, Ad­ven­tures Un­der­ground, Visit Tri-Cities and

“It is great fun,” Rich­man said. “From the mo­ment ( peo­ple) sit down, they’re go­ing to be taken through this in­ter­ac­tive the­ater ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a good night out. Go have din­ner, come and see the show and vote on the end­ing. See what hap­pens.”

Cour­tesy of Chelsea Leurn

Mid-Columbia Mu­si­cal The­atre’s “The Mys­tery of Ed­win Drood” opens Nov. 9 at the Uptown The­atre in Rich­land.

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