They Dunnit! Tallies Are In for Most Popular Drood Killers; Closing Night Surprises, Too

By Adam Hetrick
11 Mar 2013

Rosa Bud, originally played by Betsy Wolfe, was chosen as the killer more times than any other character.
Rosa Bud, originally played by Betsy Wolfe, was chosen as the killer more times than any other character.
Photo by Joan Marcus

It seems that Broadway audiences love a good murderess. Theatregoers during the run of the interactive murder-mystery musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood named Rosa Bud the killer more often than any other character, the final tallies indicate. The critically acclaimed Roundabout Theatre Company revival ended its run March 10 at Studio 54.

Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes (Curtains) authored the musical based on Charles Dickens' final and unfinished novel, which allows audiences to vote nightly upon which character murders Edwin Drood, which become lovers and which is named a bearded detective Dick Datchery.

Playbill.com has exclusively obtained the tallies for the most-popular audience-selected endings during Drood's 164 performances:

Bazzard/Mr. Phillip Bax (played by Peter Benson), who bemoans during "Never the Luck" how he awaits his moment in the limelight, enjoyed plenty of chances to leap center stage as Datchery. He was selected as the behind-the-disguise detective on the case of Drood's death a total of 97 times.



For the Lover's Duet, Princess Puffer/Miss Angela Prysock (played by Tony-winning Broadway veteran Chita Rivera) and Deputy/Master Nick Cricker (played by young actor Nicholas Barasch) were chosen a total of 46 times. Apparently audiences love a May-December romance, freuqently selecting octogenarian Rivera and teen Barasch to perform a reprise of the heartfelt duet "Perfect Strangers."

Finally, audiences decided that it was the sweet and innocent-looking ingenue Rosa Bud/Miss Deirdre Peregrine (originated by Betsy Wolfe and later played by Erin Davie) who crept up on Edwin Drood, thinking it was the lecherous John Jasper, and murdered the lad in the shadowed streets. Rosa tackled the rangy confession a whopping total of 61 times!

Representatives for the production also shared some details with Playbill.com regarding the March 10 final performance of Drood, which had a few special surprises:

Benson as Bazzard/Mr. Phillip Bax was voted to be Datchery once again, however Tony winner Rivera had her chance to deliver "Puffer's Confession" as the final murderer of the Broadway run.

Bazzard, played by Peter Benson, was selected as Datchery 97 times.
photo by Joan Marcus

Theatregoers were also treated to three lovers instead of two. Audiences selected Helena Landless/Miss Janet Conover (Tony nominee Jessie Mueller), and were tied between John Jasper/Mr. Clive Paget (Will Chase) and Neville Landless/Mr. Victor Grinstead (Andrew Samonsky) as the pair of lovers – which would potentially place the Landless twins in an awkward romantic situation. Typically the audience is required to vote on the tie-breaker, but The Chairman (played by veteran Jim Norton) said he would mark the final performance by making his own selection. He opted for Chase as Jasper, who is rarely picked to be one of the lovers.

During the final reprise of "Perfect Strangers" Jasper pulled Rosa Bud center stage to join him and Landless for the last few moments of the song. As the two leaned in to kiss him on the cheek, he stepped back so the ladies instead kissed one another. As the lyric goes, "How strangely met are we" indeed!

For those keeping score, the Murder's tally for the final March 10 performance follows:
Puffer: 233
Rosa Bud: 123
Helena Landless: 208
Neville Landless: 89
Durdles: 89
John Jasper: 152
Rev Crisparkle: 133

Scott Ellis (Curtains, Twelve Angry Men) directed the revival of the 1985 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, which has Tony Award-winning book and songs by Holmes. Previews began Oct. 19, 2012, toward an opening of Nov. 13. Read Playbill.com's extensive interview with Holmes, who talks about the history of the show, which is inspired by Charles Dickens' final unfinished novel.

The musical is told by a rowdy ensemble of actors in a Victorian London music hall. The audience famously determines the killer at the end of the show. Here's how Roundabout billed the show: "Take a trip back in time to a Victorian music hall where a rowdy ensemble of actors mounts a staging of Charles Dickens' unfinished novel.' Everyone on stage is a suspect in the murder of young Edwin Drood, and it's up to you to choose the killer! Is it John Jasper, Edwin's protective but slightly maniacal uncle? Rosa Bud, his reluctant betrothed? The debauched Princess Puffer? Each performance ends differently, depending on what the audience decides!"

The Mystery of Edwin Drood stars Stephanie J. Block (Edwin Drood), Will Chase (John Jasper), Gregg Edelman (Reverend Mr. Crisparkle), Jim Norton (Chairman) and Chita Rivera (Princess Puffer) with Jessie Mueller (Helena Landless), Nicholas Barasch (Deputy), Peter Benson (Bazzard), Robert Creighton (Durdles), Alison Cimmet, Nick Corley, Janine DiVita, Jenifer Foote, Justin Greer, Shannon Lewis, Spencer Plachy, Kiira Schmidt, Eric Sciotto and Jim Walton. Here's the Playbill Leading Men column about Will Chase and Jim Norton.