Welcome to Sacred Fools Theater Company, est. 1997


Sacred Fools Theater Company presents...



Book, Lyrics & Music by Rupert Holmes
Based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens
Directed by Douglas Clayton

One of them did it... it's up to YOU!






EXTRA PERFORMANCE ADDED!
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4 @ 2PM!

THE PAPERS SAY...

"...astonishing... a resounding success...
[a] fantastic production!" --Variety

"...astounding... inspired direction...
a sterling ensemble... a watershed event!"

--L.A. Times CRITIC'S CHOICE!

[ Read the Full Reviews! ]

AUDIENCES SAY...

"In your face hilarious! Great vocals, dry wit and
deadly funny."
-Aaron S., Sunrise West Productions

"I've seen DROOD at Sacred Fools THREE TIMES
because it makes me laugh so hard!  I'm going
back with family members this weekend!"
-Heather C.

"Songs, laughs, and lots of cleavage...
This show has everything!"
-D. Williams

[ Read More Audience Raves! ]

SEPTEMBER 21 - NOVEMBER 4, 2007
Friday & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sunday Matinees @ 2pm (except Sept. 23)

See Calendar for Details

Previews:
Fri-Sat, Sept. 14 & 15 @ 8pm
Sun, Sept. 16 @ 2pm
Thurs, Sept. 20 @ 8pm

Tickets: $25

Reservations: (310) 281-8337
or Buy Tickets Online!

For Group Tickets, contact .
(Group tix not available for Gala nights)

In an opium den-turned-theater, far from the fashionable parts of London,
a rag-tag ensemble of Victorian actors stage their own adaptation of the late
Charles Dickens' unfinished work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  And they
need your help to figure out what the ending might be.  Won't you join them?

This production of the Tony-Award-Winning Broadway hit features
a never-before-heard song, and lots of audience interaction.
Come a little early and get to know the ensemble!

starring Chariman Barnes, Brandon Clark, Kathi Copeland, Joe Fria,
Harmony Goodman, Rachel Greene, Mary Guilliams, Ryan Hartman,
Corey Klemow, Jeffrey Markle, Lynn Odell, Stephen Simon, Vanessa Smith,
Mary Sutherland, Tim Thorn, Natalie Taylor, Matthew Tyler, Brian Wallis
and Alexandra Billings as "Princess Puffer"
Music Director - Bill Newlin
Choreographer - John Pennington
Set Designer - Joel Daavid
Lighting Designer - Edward Marks
Costume Designer - Susanne Klein
Sound Designer - Adam Phalen
Makeup Designer - Heather Hopkins
Producing Consultant for Sacred Fools - Jenelle Riley
Producer - Sondra Mayer
Marketing/Producer - Peter J. Kuo
Stage Manager/Producer - Kristina Sepulveda
Press Representative - Ken Werther Publicity
Associate Producer - Cindy Sakamoto
Assistant Director - Elissa Weinzimmer
Second Assistant Director - Jaime Robledo
Assistant Producers - Racheal Caswell & Hillary Naishtat
Casting Director - C. Josephine Hagerty
Graphic Designer - Chris Buñag

Help us out with an ONLINE DONATION!

For more details, visit
DroodInLA.com!

For more information about Drood,
visit
Rupert Holmes' website!

REVIEWS
[ Jump to Audience Raves ]

VARIETY

Rachel Greene as Edwin Drood and Natalie Taylor as Rosa BudRupert Holmes' achievement in his musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" is little short of astonishing, crafting the book, music and lyrics with quick-witted mastery. Not content to merely present the novel, he ambitiously adds another level of complexity by making the story a production by a British music hall, complete with cast infighting and flirtations. And because Dickens died before completing his novel, Holmes provides not only an ending but multiple endings, decided by audience vote, a dizzying level of self-reflexivity that ultimately highlights the primal power of communal storytelling. It's a celebration of theater, and the new production at Sacred Fools, under Douglas Clayton's outstanding direction, is a resounding success.

Arrogant young Edwin Drood (Rachel Greene) is about to leave Victorian England for India, not to make his fortune, but in his narcissistic opinion, to make theirs. This doesn't endear him to recent sibling immigrants from Ceylon, Neville (Joe Fria) and Helena Landless (Harmony Goodman), however much their patron, the Reverend Crisparkle (Chairman Barnes), attempts to make amends.

Drood intends to marry Rosa Bud (Natalie Taylor) before he leaves the country, much to the dismay of her music teacher, John Jasper (Matthew Tyler). Jasper is obsessed with young Rosa, and is falling apart to the extent that he frequents the opium den of Princess Puffer (Alexandra Billings). Suffice it to say that there is no lack of foul play suspects when Drood disappears one dark night.

Tyler is superb as the suspicious Jasper, playing the character's menace and despair simultaneously, and his singing is strong. Taylor is the very picture of Victorian beauty as Rosa, quite fine as the distressed ingenue, and her operatic voice is used to stunning effect in "Moonfall." Greene makes Drood a suitable victim, and is rudely amusing as the annoyed actress playing the role.

Fria and Goodman are wonderfully over-the-top as mysterious siblings Neville and Helena, getting the maximum comic impact from every line or dramatically raised eyebrow.

Barnes brings believable warmth to his perf as Crisparkle, and Jeffrey Markle is delightful as the drunken Durdles. Billings is comedic gold as Puffer, raunchily hilarious and blessed with the voice of a Broadway belter, which is used to bravura effect in "The Wages of Sin." Finally, Tim Thorn steals the show as the master of ceremonies, a perf that expertly combines sly wit, skill, charisma and pure showmanship.

Clayton's direction shows itself in the excellence of the piece as a whole, from the detailed performances to the fluid staging of a huge cast in a small area, and he demonstrates definitively that this show actually benefits from playing in a more intimate environment.

John Pennington's choreography is constantly fresh and surprising, and Bill Newlin's music direction is energetically exceptional. Joel Daavid's detailed music hall set is an extraordinarily clever use of the theatrical space, and Edward Marks' impressionistic lighting memorably uses deep reds and blues to create vistas of emotion.

Suzanne Klein's vivid array of lush costumes serve the show brilliantly, and Heather Hopkins' makeup adds measurably to this fantastic production.

--Terry Morgan
© 2007
Variety
Buy Tickets Now!

L.A. Times (CRITIC'S CHOICE!)

Alexandra Billings as Princess Puffer'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'
brings the music hall to life

Sacred Fools revives the story with Victorian frills.

That the audience-input aspect of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" remains giddy fun is no surprise. Rupert Holmes' 1986 Tony-winning adaptation of Charles Dickens' unfinished 1870 novel has an unbeatable asset in our deciding its outcome.

What is astounding about the benchmark Sacred Fools revival is its ribald immersion in the Victorian music hall ethos. This registers at first sight of designer Joel Daavid's magnificent, venue-spanning set. And Edward Marks' superb lighting plot lacks only footlights in its inventive ambience.

Clad in Suzanne Klein's period costumes, the players spontaneously interact with us until Brandon Clark's Mr. Throttle bangs his stick to start the show. Tim Thorn enters as arch Chairman Cartwright. Music director Bill Newlin's pert band opens "There You Are," as the Music Hall Royale erupts in John Pennington's witty choreography.

Though agreeable, Holmes' score is stylistically diffuse. For all its ingenuity, his overstuffed libretto can feel arbitrary. Yet under Douglas Clayton's inspired direction, the environmental approach emphasizes "Drood's" strengths and shrinks its weaknesses, aided by a sterling ensemble.

Thorn's nimble interlocutor recalls accounts of Gilbert and Sullivan comic George Grossmith. As the title hero and the "male impersonator" who portrays him, Rachel Greene is fearless, even with an underplayed Act 2 snit. Matthew Tyler's rapid vibrato and pealing delivery are perfect for sinister John Jasper. Natalie Taylor blends vocal purity and subtle parody as ingénue Rosa Bud.

The sublime Alexandra Billings inhales Princess Puffer, while local treasures Joe Fria and Harmony Goodman hilariously devour Ceylonese siblings Neville and Helena Landless. Other standouts include Jeffrey Markle's riotous Durdles, Chairman Barnes' loopy Rev. Crisparkle and Corey Klemow's daft Bazzard.

True, this "Drood" is highly specialized, suggesting a David Lean film infiltrated by Ken Russell. Devotees may balk. Still, the rapt esprit de corps and ripe theatricality on display create a watershed event.

--David C. Nichols
© 2007
L.A. Times
Buy Tickets Now!

L.A. StageScene

Does anyone remember the Weather Girls' big disco hit entitled It’s Raining Men? Well, these days in SoCal, it’s raining Droods, with productions of the Rupert Holmes Broadway smash opened or opening just about everywhere. The one that’s captured the most attention and already inspired a bunch of deserved raves is the one currently wowing audiences at Sacred Fools. In the words of The Weather Girls, “Hallelujah!”

Director Douglas Clayton and his sensational cast, musicians, choreographer, and design team have scaled down the Broadway sized show to fit Sacred Fools’ intimate space with impressive results, although in fact, rather than fitting the space, it would be more accurate to say that they fill it…to the brim! Master scenic designer Joel Daavid has literally surrounded the audience with his Chinese influenced set, which includes a pair of box seats for audience members, hanging lanterns, and curtained private sleeping berths, like on a train. Speaking of surrounding the audience, when the entire ensemble joins to sing one of Holmes’ rousing choruses, audience members experience live surround sound as never before. No matter where you sit, someone is sure to be singing beside you and behind you.

Anyone seeing Drood for the first time will understand in an instant why it became a long running Broadway hit, which has attracted countless Droodheads, who seek out any Drood production, anywhere. There’s the catchy score, which blends Broadway and the British music hall. There are the wonderfully Dickensian characters (this is after all Charles Dickens’ last (unfinished) work). There’s the knowing breaking of the third wall, as actors on stage applaud each other’s entrances, interact with the audience, step in and out of character, and decide suddenly to depart from the Dickens tale and break into a rousing chorus of Off to the Races, a song which has absolutely nothing to do with the Mystery of Edwin Drood. (At one point, a character tells us, “I’m sure we’ll have at least one reprise of this before we’re through,” and we do.) Finally, there’s the participation by the audience, who are not only invited to join in the singing from time to time, but also must make three major plot decisions, the results of which lead to an apparent 120 possible versions of the show. (Any one of a half-dozen cast members may end up singing Out on a Limerick, depending on who is voted the “winner” by the audience. The reprise of Perfect Strangers may be sung by a dozen or more possible duos. Finally, there are seven different Murderer’s Confessions, depending on whom the audience chooses.)

Though not all of the cast possess the vocal skills which distinguish the best of them, this is a superbly talented (and raucous) ensemble. They’re all clearly having a ball on stage, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Standouts include (in alphabetical order) Chairman Barnes as a delightful Crisparkle, Joe Fria stealing scenes right and left as a bug-eyed Neville Landless, Harmony Goodman as a serpentine Helena with silent movie poses, Rachel Greene, a beautiful Brit with West End credits and a gorgeous voice to match, Corey Klemow as a supremely silly Buzzard, Jeffrey Markle staggering this way and that as the drunken Durdles, Tim Thorn in a truly commanding performance as the Chairman of a thousand puns, Natalie Taylor as an angelically voiced Rosa Budd, and handsome Matthew Tyler channeling his inner cad as villainous John Jasper. (Note: It’s a joy to hear Taylor’s soprano and Greene’s alto blend in such rich harmonies when singing Perfect Strangers.) Finally, this weekend’s Princess Puffer is the lovely and very talented Lynn Odell, who rather than “imitate the original,” makes the role wholly her own in a funny (she’s great with the double entendres) and touching (e.g. her reconciliation with Rosa) performance.

Kudos to director Clayton for his inventive staging, such as Drood and Jasper’s escalating efforts to upstage each other in Two Kinsman. There’s a great opium trip sequence, including Chinese dragon and masked players, all bathed in an eerie green light. Actors become part of the set design, holding street lamps, portraits, and garden flowers. At one moment, a mini-chandelier descends, a la Phantom in miniature; at another, the Chairman is suddenly revealed to be kanoodling with a female cast member behind a curtained berth. I’m told Clayton has been getting ready for this production for years, and it shows.

Music director Bill Newlin’s five-piece band sounds great, and you won’t see a bigger or better bunch of Dickensian costumes on an intimate theater stage than Suzanne Klein’s for this production. There’s not much room left on the stage for dancing when everybody’s there, but choreographer John Pennington has managed to fit in some high stepping numbers. Edward Marks’ lighting is wonderfully mood-setting, from the moonlight which bathes Taylor as she sings Moonfall, to the red-light-district crimson which adds a sinister quality to Princess Puffer’s den of iniquity.

My LAStageScene guest was musical theater buff Michael Landman-Karny, who told me after the performance, “I have ‘saved myself’ to make my first Drood production a memorable one—and I could not imagine a better production—it was truly superb...” I concur wholeheartedly.

--Steven Stanley
© 2007
L.A. StageScene
Buy Tickets Now!

AUDIENCE RAVES

AUDIENCE VIDEO CAM

"This fantastic cast brings charming life to a fun and unique score. Best production I've seen of a pretty tricky show. Never a dull moment."
-Mara H., Music Connection Magazine

"In your face hilarious! Great vocals, dry wit, and deadly funny."
-Aaron S., Sunrise West Productions

"The show was very entertaining, all the actors were superb, the set was fantastic and the direction was outstanding. Don't miss this wonderful show where everything comes together to create a wonderful experience! Seeing it more than once is great fun, because of the different endings."
– Mary C.

"I've seen DROOD at Sacred Fools THREE TIMES because it makes me laugh so hard! I'm going back with family members this weekend! I usually hate going to see theatre because I've seen so many mediocre shows. The cast is amazing and gets the style, the set is magnificent, and the direction superb. DROOD is THE show to see this year!"
-Heather C.

"The characters of Edwin Drood exert their pull as soon as you take your seat. By the time the house lights dim, you are a captive and the next two hours pass quickly in laughter and fascination."
-Jose F.

"A perfect balance of silly humor and truly touching moments! Alexandra [Billings] as Puffer is absolutely perfect. I have never seen ANY one in ANY production, including Cleo Laine [on Broadway], be better in the role."
-T. Stephan

"I love love LOVE the pre-show. Having the actors mingle with the audience definitely gave the music hall atmosphere and gave the audience a glimpse of the structure of the show."
-Marcus G.

"Songs, laughs, and lots of cleavage...This show has everything!"
-D. Williams

"We loved it! We sat right on the stage at one of the 3-4 little cocktail tables and definitely felt as if the play was going on all around us. The theater is so intimate that there isn't a bad seat to be found. The singing was wonderful (Rose Bud, Jasper, ensemble), the mayor/narrator and Neville were exceptional, particularly with their facial expressions. We are planning on returning, this time with the friends who originally weren't so interested (or adventurous)."
-Denise H.

"This fantastic show is the best deal in town! I took my 14 year old son to the show for his birthday and we had a blast. (It's kind of racy, so I definitely wouldn't recommend it for anyone younger than that...) Everything about the show was top rate - the actors, the music, the fun! By the way, there's a 5-piece band who enhanced the performance tremendously- very unusual and wonderful for a small theatre. There are some opportunities for the audience to interact, and we had a good time with that as well.  We both highly recommend it to anyone who loves theatre."
-Liz K.

"I went in expecting to be entertained. Sacred Fools productions have never disappointed me. What I didn't expect was to have belly-laughed, held intensely fascinating conversations with very engaging characters, and watched two non-theatrical friends grinningly and energetically hoof it through a dance lesson onstage... all "pre-curtain." And once the show started, I didn't expect to laugh myself to rolling tears twice, experience mouth-gaping, dazzled appreciation of a duet, and feel that I'd somehow been part of the most impressively connected ensemble work I've ever seen in L.A.  I've been enjoying theatre for decades.  This time, I was flabbergastedly entertained."
-L. Moore

Buy Tickets Now!

ARTICLES

L.A. STAGE MAGAZINE

Venerable Musicals Drood and Hair Receive Local Revivals

Douglas Clayton & Alexandra Billings

SOMETIMES IT IS JUST AS EXCITING to see a different view of a familiar play or musical as is the discovery of a new and vibrant theatrical work. Revivals offer directors and actors an opportunity to rethink and often find radically new tactics to breathe fresh life into favorite scripts. When speaking to directors of revivals, there is almost always an air of excitement because the director's concept holds as much sway as that of the playwright or composer, whose work on the show is usually finished.

One such director is Douglas Clayton, who lives successfully in both the artistic and production-administration ends of theatre (he is the newly appointed Member Services Manager of LA Stage Alliance). But it is his directing that fills him with the most glee; currently he is helming a revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Drood was a 1986 Broadway hit and five-time Tony Award winner, including two for composer/writer Rupert Holmes. Clayton speaks euphorically about his plans for the revival, especially about his coup of receiving permission to add a song that had been stricken from the original show. The number, "An English Music Hall," is the perfect tool for Clayton's reimagining of the show. He plans to place the audience within the ambiance of the Music Hall as actors mingle with the crowd.

His concept is perfectly in tune with the style of Sacred Fools, so he is extremely happy to be creating the show with that company. He explains, "Sacred Fools is ideal for my idea. Their space can be transformed into an opium den that has been refurbished into a music hall. Also there is always a party atmosphere at Fools. They regularly do late-night shows that have a lot of audience interaction–-and their actors' performance styles are something I wanted for the show.

"It has so many different elements to it. First of all it's Dickens so you have these huge, strong characters, not quite cartoons but definitely larger than life people. We need actors who are not afraid to make bold choices. Actors will be in the seats with the audience at all times so I needed performers who are unafraid of chatting and entertaining in an improvised setting. They also have to grasp the correct level of bawdiness. It is a Dickens party, which means basically PG-13. There is a lot of discussion of prostitution and opium smoking and that sort of thing but it is not graphic, not disgusting."

But can the Sacred Fools sing? Clayton quickly responds, "One of the interesting things about Drood is that it has a very eclectic mix of musical styles; Rupert's whole idea of the show was to be an homage to the music hall. Some of the roles are much more about performance and character and communicating to the audience rather than incredible singing. About four roles require ridiculously talented singers."

In addition to the fortune of having Holmes' input with the added song and a cast of wild actors, Clayton couldn't be happier about casting the key role of Princess Puffer which needs an extremely special actress. Clayton was given the suggestion of Alexandra Billings. He soon learned she was a popular transgendered actress/cabaret artist. "I called her manager. As it turned out it was the first show she'd ever seen on Broadway and it was a huge life-changing thing for her." She quickly responded she would love to do the show.

An interesting wrinkle in this business of revivals: Drood has not played in Southern California since 1994; now suddenly there are four other planned nearby productions. Rather than be concerned, Clayton has decided to embrace the idea and has been in contact with the other venues to do some cross-promotion.

--Tom Provenzano
© 2007
L.A. Stage Alliance
Buy Tickets Now!