Monday, December 21, 2009

Back in Time: 1985-86: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Part IV

In this final blog about The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I will look at the principal cast of the show-within-the-show. I could probably write a whole book on just these people, so please understand that I am just reviewing highlights of their careers, pre-, during, and post Drood. It is by no means inclusive.

I am sure fans of the show know a lot of this, but I am also willing to bet that there will be a few surprises, too. Enjoy!

The Rogue's Gallery of The Mystery of Edwin Drood


Joe Grifasi - Bazzard (the inexplicably included character in Mr. Dickens' book and in the show) (# 7 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)
  • Before Drood: Grifasi appeared in several short-lived Broadway productions, including Happy End, The 1940's Radio Hour, and Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Throughout his career, Mr. Grifasi made and continues to make dozens of film appearances. Before Drood, he appeared in The Deer Hunter, among others.

  • During Drood: He played the lovable and frequently voted for Bazzard; he was frequently voted as Datchery, the murderer, and as a lover.
  • After Drood: Broadway: The Play's the Thing and Dinner at Eight. Film: Beaches, Batman Forever, 61*, and The Bronx is Burning.

George N. Martin - The Reverend Mr. Crisparkle (the pious, the unrequited, the deadly) (# 6 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)

  • Before Drood: Martin made his Broadway debut in Plenty, earning a Tony nomination, and went on to star in Pack of Lies.
  • During Drood: He replaced the late Larry Shue in the role in the transition from Central Park to Broadway.
  • After Drood: Mr. Martin made several film appearances and had roles in several Broadway shows, including M. Butterfly, The Crucible, On the Waterfront, and, most recently, Racing Demon.

Jana Schneider - Helena Landless (the twin sister of Neville, transplant from Ceylon, serious temper) (# 1 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)

  • Before Drood: She appeared on Broadway in Othello and The Robber Bridegroom.
  • During Drood: Miss Schneider was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance.

  • After Drood: She left the stage for a singing career (ABOVE), touring the world with her husband, and became an acclaimed photojournalist, published in Time Magazine and other notable publications. In 1992, she was seriously injured, nearly losing a leg, during the Siege of Sarajevo, where she was covering the conflict.

John Herrera - Neville Landless (the twin brother of Neville, transplant from Ceylon, serious temper and lust issues) (# 4 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)

  • Before Drood: He appeared in a revival of Camelot on Broadway.
  • During Drood: Mr. Herrera was honored with a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal.
  • After Drood: He appeared on Broadway in a series of flops and revivals: 1776, Shogun: The Musical, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Man of La Mancha (2002), The Threepenny Opera (2006) and The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Patti Cohenour - Rosa Bud (the ingenue, the innocent, the orphaned, the insane) (# 3 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)

  • Before Drood: Patti created roles in A Doll's Life and Big River.
  • During Drood: Miss Cohenour was nominated for a Tony for this performance.

  • After Drood: She went on to become the original alternate and eventually the first replacement for Sarah Brightman in The Phantom of the Opera (ABOVE), played the Mother Abbess in the revival of The Sound of Music, and originated roles in The Light in the Piazza, (BELOW) where she was also alternate for Victoria Clark.

Howard McGillin - John Jasper (Drood's jealous uncle, opium addict, and obvious villain) (# 5 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)

  • Before Drood: Along with Miss Cohenour, he appeared in La Boheme with Linda Ronstadt.

During Drood: McGillin was honored with a Tony Award nomination, and won a Theatre World Award for his villainous performance. His character is also the only one never legitimately voted as the murderer, though he "confessed" every night.

  • After Drood: His career took off in all directions. TV: Murder, She Wrote among others. Movies: Voices for The Swan Princess and the South Park movie. National Tour: (ABOVE) Peter Pan as Captain Hook, opposite Cathy Rigby. Broadway: Anything Goes (Tony nomination), The Secret Garden, Kiss of the Spider Woman, She Loves Me, and perhaps most notably, with 2,544 performances, he is the Phantom (BELOW) with the most performances in the role than anyone in the world in The Phantom of the Opera.

Cleo Laine - The Princess Puffer (The Grand Dame, the purveyor of opium pleasures, and a long lost nanny) (# 2 in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)
  • Before Drood: In 1979, Miss Laine was bestowed the honor of Dame by the royal family of the British Empire. She has (before, during and since Drood) recorded over a hundred albums of jazz, popular and stage music. She made frequent appearances on the West End Stage.

  • During Drood: Dame Cleo Laine made her Broadway debut in the show (ABOVE), earning a Theatre World Award and Tony nod for her hilarious, over the top performance.
  • After Drood: She toured the US in Into the Woods, as the Witch, earning critical acclaim in L.A. She continues to record at age 82, and shows no signs of stopping.


Betty Buckley - Edwin Drood (spoiled dandy, betrothed to Rosa Bud, plans to dismantle the Great Pyramid to construct a road)

  • Before Drood: Broadway favorite Betty Buckley made her debut in 1776 as Martha Jefferson, later starred in Pippin and became most famous for her Tony-winning turn (ABOVE) as Grizabella the Glamour Cat in Cats. Most non-theatre folk know her from her years on Eight is Enough and the films Tender Mercies and Carrie.
  • During Drood: Miss Buckley also recorded albums and appeared in several acclaimed night club acts. She immediately left Drood to replace Bernadette Peters in Song and Dance across the street at the Royale Theatre. The gig would last less than 2 weeks, as the show closed.

  • After Drood: It has been 12 years since Miss Buckley last appeared in a role on the Broadway stage - her Tony-nominated turn in Triumph of Love. She also appeared, to much acclaim both here and in London, (ABOVE) as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. She also appeared in the legendary stage adaptation of Carrie, this time as Margaret, Carrie's mother. Her performance of the song, "And Eve Was Weak" is stunning.


George Rose - The Chairman, William Cartwright/Mayor Thomas Sapsea (Comedian and Host Extraordinaire) - (Center in "Rogue's Gallery" Photo)
  • Before Drood: George Rose had an amazing stage career both in London and on Broadway, where he made is debut in 1946 in King Henry V, Parts I & II. His other credits include Coco (Tony nomination), original roles in Loot, Slueth, and in revivals of Peter Pan (ABOVE - opposite Sandy Duncan), The Pirates of Penzance (Tony nomination), and My Fair Lady (BELOW - Tony Award - Best Supporting Actor in a Musical).

  • During Drood: Mr. Rose was honored with the 1986 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

  • After Drood: Sadly, George Rose was murdered in 1988, during a break in the national tour of Drood. His death, at the hands of his adopted son and the boy's biological father happened in Rose's adopted home of The Dominican Republic, where he is buried in an unmarked grave.


Later editions of the script included the roles of Durdles, the crypt keeper and his assistant, The Deputy as potential murderer, and potential lover, respectively. The originators of those roles on Broadway were the late Jerome Dempsey, whose first Broadway appearance was in the original West Side Story, and Stephen Glavin, who has no Broadway credits beyond Drood.

(Photos are from a variety of Internet sources.)

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