Theater Here’s my Act 2 character… DETECTIVE DICK DATCHERY! He’s a sleuth trying to solve the mystery of Edwin Drood. Whodunnit?

Published on January 10th, 2014 | by Danae DeShazer

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A day in the life: ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ — opening night

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is now playing at the Manatee Performing Arts Center through January 26. Go behind the scenes during opening night with me, Danae DeShazer, as I play multiple roles in the production, including the title character!* Catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be backstage, on stage and everywhere in between.

This wildly warm-hearted theatrical experience kicks off when the British Music Hall Royale “puts on” its rendition of an unfinished Dickens mystery. The giddy playfulness of this play-within-a-play draws the audience toward one of “Drood’s” most talked-about features, which allows the audience to vote on the solution to the murder as prelude to the most unusual and hilarious finale.

*Note: Yes, a female does get to play the leading “male” role of Edwin Drood. This is called a “pants role,” and it was a popular schtick used in the 19th century Music Halls in Britain. It started earlier than that in operas, where a young lad would be written for a female voice.

My dressing station and its star: Murray’s Pomade. Playing a male impersonator who takes on the title character of Edwin Drood, I’ve had to experiment with different ways to transform my cute bob into a hairstyle ripe for a late 19th Century lad.

My dressing station and its star: Murray’s Pomade. Playing a male impersonator who takes on the title character of Edwin Drood, I’ve had to experiment with different ways to transform my cute bob into a hairstyle ripe for a late 19th Century lad.

It’s my turn to get a pic with the director, Scott Keys! He’s fabulous

It’s my turn to get a pic with the director, Scott Keys! He’s fabulous

What’s that Molly? A little treat from the Chairman? Walter Price, who plays our Chairman, brought us special treats from England… Jelly Babies!

What’s that Molly? A little treat from the Chairman? Walter Price, who plays our Chairman, brought us special treats from England… Jelly Babies!

Most of the ladies before we invade the audience prior to the show. “Drood” is a fun one – all the actors get to mingle with the audience before and during the show to make it a truly interactive experience. Here, we are our Music Hall personas before we take on our characters within “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Confused? Just come see the show!

Most of the ladies before we invade the audience prior to the show. “Drood” is a fun one – all the actors get to mingle with the audience before and during the show to make it a truly interactive experience. Here, we are our Music Hall personas before we take on our characters within “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Confused? Just come see the show!

A shot off stage. This is during the “Moonfall” scene.

A shot off stage. This is during the “Moonfall” scene.

The Princess Puffer Prepares. (Michele Spears)

The Princess Puffer prepares. (Michele Spears)

YIKES!

YIKES!

Our motto for the show? BOOTS BEFORE CORSET! It’s impossible otherwise… and, sometimes, we forget.

Our motto for the show? “BOOTS BEFORE CORSET!” It’s impossible, otherwise … and, sometimes, we forget.

Hanging in the green room.

Hanging in the green room. (photo by Amanda Heisey)

Here’s my Act 2 character… DETECTIVE DICK DATCHERY! He’s a sleuth trying to solve the mystery of Edwin Drood. Whodunnit?

Here’s my Act 2 character … DETECTIVE DICK DATCHERY! He’s a sleuth trying to solve the mystery of Edwin Drood. Whodunnit?

The audience has voted our lovely Bazzard to play the rest of Act 2 as Detective Dick Datchery! This show is so fun, and changes each night!

The audience has voted our lovely Bazzard to play the rest of Act 2 as Detective Dick Datchery! This show is so fun, and it changes each night!

Our dear Reverend Crisparkle was voted as MURDERER tonight!

Our dear Reverend Crisparkle was voted MURDERER tonight! (photo by Amanda Heisey)

The Manatee Players went all out! They had the most delicious “English” food… bangers and mash, fish and chips, and more.

The Manatee Players went all out! They had the most delicious “English” food — bangers and mash, fish and chips and more.

Purple must have been a popular color for tonight’s party… Here is Scott Keys, Christoff Marse, Heath Jorgensen, Amanda Heisey, Walter Price, and J.D. Carter all decked out.

Purple must have been a popular color for tonight’s party — here is Scott Keys, Christoff Marse, Heath Jorgensen, Amanda Heisey, Walter Price and J.D. Carter all decked out.

My partner in crime, Amanda Heisey! Come help us solve the Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Manatee Performing Arts Center through January 26. The only musical where YOU get to choose the ending.

My partner in crime, Amanda Heisey! Come help us solve the Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Manatee Performing Arts Center through January 26. The only musical where YOU get to choose the ending.

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About the Author

Danae DeShazer is an actress and marketing professional living in Sarasota, FL. Follow her @srqartsgal or learn more at www.danaedeshazer.com.



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