The Waxahachie High School theatre program will soon draw back the curtains on the last-ever Dallas Summer Musical performances in the current building.
The production, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” is a solve-it-yourself show that’s interactive with the audience. The show is written by Robert Holmes but was inspired by the unfinished novel written by Charles Dickens. The production will be the last DSM musical performed in the theatre at the current high school, as the next will be held in the theatre on the new campus.
Waxahachie High theatre director Andy Reynolds said most high schools won’t come near a production this intricate, as there are a variety of songs and lines that will not be used since the plot is based on the audiences’ decisions.
“The reasons high schoolers don’t do this play because it’s a difficult show to do, but Waxahachie High School has never shied away from doing difficult musicals,” Reynolds explained.
The storyline has the opportunity to end in several different ways. There will be audience participation in the second act after the characters have all been introduced. Guests will be given a ballot to decide on which of the eight characters is the murderer. A round of applause will also decipher who the detective will be as well as the lovers.
“There won’t be a show that’s the same to the one before it or after it,” Reynolds said. “So, it’s going to be really interesting, we’ve never done a show like this. We have to learn, overall, 16 different songs that we will never sing or the orchestra will never play.”
Since it’s an interactive production, Reynolds is encouraging a lively audience all four evenings to participate, especially Friday, Jan. 26. That night, judges from the Dallas Summer Musical will be attending the show, judging the student’s performance. Waxahachie High theatre students compete against 75 other schools in north Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
The cast consists of 45 students with 15 crewmembers, and 15 people make up the orchestra.
“This year, for the first time ever, we’ve made more than 84 percent of our costumes and of course having 45 kids on stage, all having to have Victorian costumes, is not an easy task,” Reynolds said.
The story takes place in late 1800s London, bringing to life the turn of the century. The show is overall a melodramatic comedy with some poignant moments. Reynolds also disclosed that the show is high school appropriate with some adult themes.
This production marks that last competitive show for seniors Katy Wilson and Adam Lamb.
When looking back on the months of rehearsals, Wilson said, “We have countless different songs and lines that will change, depending on what the audience wants, so preparing for this has been a tedious task to get all of those different lines and twists memorized."
As this is Lamb’s final show with the crew, it’s the small moments with the students and audience he’s looking forward to.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the moments that we share backstage and also the moments we share with the audience,” Lamb said. “Like the moments when we say a line that we didn’t think would get a laugh, the whole audience uproars are some of the most satisfying moments to remember and look back on.”
The show will take place through Jan. 25 — 27 at 7 p.m. and on Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be available for purchase one hour before showtime. General admission is $10 while students and seniors are $7.