THE LILAC PLAYERS PROUDLY PRESENT...
My first introduction to The Mystery of Edwin Drood was ten years ago, when I played Bazzard in a college production. At the time, I fell in love with the show's lively score and glorious melodrama. Now here I am, a decade later, putting it on with my very own theater company!
Shortly after The Lilac Players were formed, a beloved theater group that I and many other Lilac members were a part of was disbanded. That group, the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players, had selected The Mystery of Edwin Drood as their summer production. That show never came to fruition, but The Lilac Players decided that we would take up that mantle and make Drood our first fully staged production.
The more I re-explored Drood, the more perfect it seemed for The Lilac Players. With its choose-your-own-ending format, it has been easy to incorporate queer pairings and gender play. It is set in a small music hall, and is a show-within-a show in which the company has been working hard with little money but a lot of heart to get themselves to opening night. The world of the music hall fits in with our mission to promote visibility of LGBTQIA+ persons, since cross-casting and exploring gender was always a part of music hall and vaudeville culture. Producing Drood is not only an homage to the Gilbert & Sullivan Players, but the perfect introduction to what will hopefully be many years of Lilac Players shows.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood also raised discussions of a few timely issues. The sexual harassment Rosa suffers at Jasper's hands is a struggle to watch at times, and the script makes you feel as uncomfortable as it should. The Landless twins, however, are not as gracefully handled in the original script. While they were English missionaries in Charles Dickens' novel, in Drood they are presented as foreign stereotypes due to the music hall's misinterpretation of the source material. I felt that in today's world, that portrayal read as tone-deaf and offensive. We decided to rely more on Dickens' book for the twins while highlighting the fact that the town still treats the Landlesses as others, just as they themselves treated the residents of Ceylon. Helena and Neville in our show have appropriated the culture of Ceylon, working it into their clothing and patterns of speech. In our Drood, neither the Landlesses nor the townspeople are blameless.
All in all, directing The Mystery of Edwin Drood has been a tremendously positive experience. I could write pages and pages about all the talented people who helped bring this show together, and I hope that I will have opportunities to work with all of them again. I love every member of the cast, crew, and orchestra and deeply appreciate all the hard work they put in.
For the sake of time, I'd just like to thank two people here. First: Meghan Jolliffe, our vocal director and one of my close friends. The skill and care she put into this project inspired me, and it shows in the beautiful singing you're about to hear. She has moved across the country for grad school and couldn't see the final result, but she still made sure to pour her heart and soul into this show. And second: Anna-Constantia Richardson, the co-founder of The Lilac Players. Without her, this group truly would not exist, and this show never would have made it to the stage. As set designer, de facto technical director, partial producer, poster designer, and a lead actress, she has worn her many hats with endless grace. I hope I never stop making theater with either one of them.
Many thanks to all of you who came out to see The Lilac Players' first fully staged production. I can't wait to share this life-changing experience you beautiful people, and hope to see you all soon at future shows!
- Emma Brown, Director and President of The Lilac Players
Special Thanks To:
The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club
The Josephine A. Fiorentino Community Center
The MIT Musical Theater Guild
All of you! Our friends and supporters!
About the Lilac Players
The purpose of The Lilac Players is to foster theatrical opportunities for women and LGBTQIA+ members of the community by producing and promoting staged shows. We focus on showcasing new productions and re-framing existing works through nontraditional casting, or performing works which challenge outmoded norms, celebrate our diverse lifestyles, and entertain audiences throughout.