“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” featuring Northsiders Christa Ciesil and Kathryn Merck
by Israel Gomez
Northsiders Kathryn Merck, Adv. 800, and Christa Ciesil, Adv. 905, will appear in the upcoming production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” with Edge of the Wood Theatre’s Resident Theatre this Spring 2018.
Founded in the summer of 2000, Edge of the Wood Theatre began as a four-week summer program for neighborhood youth. It has evolved into a successful theatre school that features three terms of courses for students ages six through eighteen, three full-length musical productions each year, and several short showcases for younger students.
Ciesil and Merck have been enrolled in classes at Edge of the Wood Theatre since they were very young. Now in high school, both Merck and Ciesil have played multiple characters in very demanding roles. Ciesil’s favorite roles include Olive Ostrovsky in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Cinderella in “Into the Woods,” and Princess Winnifred in “Once Upon a Mattress.” Merck’s favorite roles include Carmen Bernstein in “Curtains,” Witch in “Into the Woods,” and Irene Malloy in “Hello, Dolly!” Both Merck and Ciesil are also active members of the Rest of the Wood Theatre, the student-organized theatre company within the program.
With the Resident Theatre program, Edge of the Wood expands its theatrical scope, producing family-friendly shows across multiple genres. The Resident Theatre brings professional theatre to the theatre school. The Resident Theatre began in 2013 and has brought eleven shows to the Edge of the Wood stage. Ciesil is a member of the Resident Theatre Ensemble and has appeared in multiple shows with the professional group. “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is Merck’s first production with the Resident Theatre.
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is a musical based on the unfinished Charles Dickens novel by the same name. The Broadway musical was written by Rupert Holmes, and was the first Broadway musical with multiple endings. The ending of each show is determined by audience vote, making for a fun show for crowd members and actors alike. Ciesil plays the role of Deputy, and Merck is in the Ensemble. They are two of three students in the show, and each student in the show is from a Chicago Public School.
Ciesil has been involved in choir and the musical at Northside each of her three years here. Ciesil can often be found dashing from one rehearsal at Northside to another rehearsal at Edge of the Wood. She told the Hoofbeat, “I’m currently in three shows at once. Sometimes, this can be extremely difficult, as I’ve had little time to complete homework and study. However, the experience has been extremely rewarding and I’m excited to be in Northside’s upcoming production, as well as the productions at Edge of the Wood.” Ciesil appeared in Northside’s upcoming production of The Sound of Music, just a weekend after completing another production at Edge of the Wood with Merck.
Merck, however, has never appeared in a Northside production. Northsiders could find Merck on the volleyball court and softball field, but would be shocked to find out she is in multiple musicals at Edge of the Wood each year. She told the Hoofbeat, “Being a part of Edge of the Wood has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Their inclusive philosophy allows me participate in all the activities I enjoy while still being in three productions each year. My teachers at the theatre have taught me so many lessons on and off the stage, and I’m excited to potentially continue my theatrical career after I leave Northside this year.”
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” runs March 16-24 at Edge of the Wood theatre in Edgebrook. Northside students can get discounted tickets through either Merck or Ciesil themselves. For more ticket information and to read cast biographies, visit http://edgeofthewood.com/resident-theatre/