Canal Winchester High School thespians do not know how their spring musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, will end when they take the stage, but they are not worried.

Canal Winchester High School thespians do not know how their spring musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, will end when they take the stage, but they are not worried.

This musical, written by Rupert Holmes and based on Charles Dickens' unfinished last novel, allows the audience to decide how the show will conclude.

Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, at Oley Speaks Auditorium, 100 Washington St., Canal Winchester.

Tickets can be purchased from members of the cast and crew, by calling 614-836-1448, or at the door. Prices are $10 for the center section around the runway and $7 for seating on the side.

Director Abbey Phillips said Holmes used the "play within a play" concept to tell the story that is set in London in 1892.

When patrons enter the auditorium, they will be greeted by an English acting company getting ready to "perform the title show." The auditorium will also boast some period pieces to create the atmosphere of an 1890s music hall.

Phillips said she chose this show because it was the "polar opposite" of last year's musical.

"This production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood is far more Edwardian in style, and I love the intrigue of the audience solving the mystery," Phillips said. "The audience will be involved in the show from the moment they step in the doors."

At one point in the show, the musical, with its live professional orchestra, comes to an abrupt stop when the story line ends because that's as far as Dickens got before he died.

"In the middle of the second act, in the midst of a big production number, everything comes to a halt and at that point, the audience decides everything for us," Phillips said. "They will get to vote on three key issues and from their decisions, that's how we will finish the show.

"Due to the voting on several different elements, there are over 360 different combinations of endings, so every show will literally be different," she added.

Eighth-grader J.D. Black said the audience should enjoy the show because it's so different from other musicals.

"There are all kinds of crazy things that can happen in the musical -- all different variables that can change -- and it does not take itself too seriously. This is kind of crazy, fun, goofy," Black said.

The surprise ending is only one of the challenges this show presented for the director, actors and crew. Others included finding affordable period costumes, converting the auditorium into an 1890s music hall with a 12-foot runway into the audience, and the dialect.

"It's always inspiring to watch the kids work hard to achieve an amazing performance, but this show has pushed them even further," Phillips said. "They have worked on dialects and contextual references to the Victorian era, including costume pieces they had never heard of before."

More information about the musical is available online on the Canal Winchester Performing Arts Department website, CWPerformingArts.info.