The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Sarah Purvis
Sarah Purvis

A north Northumberland actress has already played a nun and a teapot, but is now looking forward to the challenge of playing a man.

Alnwick Stage Musical Society has recently cast its next show, the Victorian comedy whodunnit The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and actress and singer Sarah Purvis has landed the title role.

Sarah, from Titlington, near Bolton, who has been with the Society since 2007, is no stranger to principal roles, but playing the part of a woman playing a man will be a first for her.

“I’m very excited and really looking forward to the challenge,” said Sarah, who is delighted to have been given the role of Edwin Drood.

“I think the hardest aspect for me will be distinguishing between the three roles I play in the show: the actress, Alice Nutting, who plays the part of Edwin Drood and also, briefly, the detective, Datchery.”

The Mystery of Edwin Drood, to be performed at the Alnwick Playhouse from March 12 to 16 next year is a play within a play loosely based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens.

Rehearsals have already begun and Sally Pumford, who is directing for the Society for the first time says she is extremely excited about the show.

“The cast is, without exception, excellent,” she said.

“This is a fabulous show. Despite its rather grim-sounding title, it is a riotous comedy, with lots of audience participation.

“Each night, the audience will vote on the ending so people may even want to come to see it more than once – the chances are that they’ll see two completely different shows.

“This show is guaranteed fun – it’s just what we all need in these times of depression and gloom.”

Sarah, meanwhile, is studiously preparing for her role by watching old footage of 19th-century music hall stars.

“Music hall actresses like Vesta Tilley often impersonated men,” Sarah said.

“At the time it was considered quite daring for a woman to wear trousers.”

Although the show is now cast, the society would welcome more men to be in the chorus.

Rehearsals are on Tuesdays at 7.30pm at Alnwick South School.

Anyone interested should just go along or call Sally on 01665 604304 for further information.