The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

WEEKENDER / Entertainment

August 24, 2012

Impressive cast in fun ‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’



 They’re off to the races at Rabbit Run Theater on Chapel Road with the final offering of the summer season that happens to be a hilarious comedy, partially penned as a mystery by Charles Dickens.
The ‘partially’ comes from the playwright’s death halfway through the writing of the work. Add some music and choreography, a creative touch of letting the audience decide the ending of the play (much like Ayn Rand did in “The Night of January 16th”) and who the murderer is, a bit of Victor Victoria, some vaudeville and slapstick and you have a show that Dickens would probably enjoy if he were around to purchase a ticket.
The British accent plays havoc with American ears, and in some cases the words of the songs are difficult to understand.  Not to worry; after each song the chairman/mayor in the real personage of George Roth alerts viewers as to what is happening: nice touch.
 And what a nice, professional, well-seasoned touch Mr. Roth gives to his characters. His online biography indicates that he trained to be an actor, first as an undergraduate at Yale University, and then at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London where he earned a three-year acting diploma and appeared in the Royal National Theatre’s West End run of Brighton Beach Memoirs.  He has taught theater for the Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory, Akron City Schools and Hawken Middle School and directed “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Laramie Project” for FPAC. George’s film and television credits include “Batman,” “The Russia House,” “Nightbreed,” “Doing Time on Maple Drive,” “Tailspin,” “Murphy Brown,” “Love and War,” “Get a Life” and “Capital City.”
Brian Altman as John Jasper, the cathedral’s master of music and eternal murder suspect, displays his diabolically divided personalities with accents of evil and innocence that befit Dr. J and Mr. H. In his 20+ years on stage, Altman has always pleased audiences with his vocals and his ability to assume his character roles without flaw.

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