How ironic that the same week that I missed seeing Betty Buckley in Hello Dolly because she was sick, I saw The Mystery of Edwin Drood for the first time, given that Buckley was one of the stars of the original Broadway production in 1985, playing Drood, and, perhaps needless to say, I missed seeing her again, as she isn’t a member of the St. Sebastian Players.
Actually, only three of the 20 cast members of Drood are St. Sebastian Theater company members, including one whom I have seen before and who. as the program correctly suggests, has the “creepy parts cornered.”
The rest are all ringers, so why not Betty Buckley? That would have brought some heat to the drafty church basement theater.
That said, the show is unsophisticated fun and young Sarah Myers (new to Chicago), as Drood, showed me enough that I expect to see a lot more of her in productions around town.
But the real ringer is Darryl Maximilian Robinson, as the Chairman of the Music Hall Royale. It’s a huge part that demands not just talent, but also charm during his frequent interactions with the audience in a show that looks for a joke at every turn and has no respect for the fourth wall.
It didn’t surprise me to learn that Robinson is “best known for his original one-man show of Shakespeare and time-travel comedy” called A Bit of the Bard, which I find all the more significant now that it has been suggested that Stephen Hawking, in his final book, has allowed for the possibility of time travel, in contradiction to his earlier “chronology protection conjecture,” in which “the laws of physics do not allow time machines,” thus keeping “the world safe for historians.”
Of course, with time travel, I might have opted to see Buckley in Drood in 1985, and then not bothered to see this production or think about, or use, time travel, and then we’re right back to where we started.