June 21, 2002


Jekyll and Hyde

reviewed by
Lynn Trenning





















For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

For more about CPCC Summer Theatre, please visit http://www.cpcc.cc.nc.us/summer_theatre/2002/.

(special to the Charlotte Observer)

Who could predict that Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which has mutated from a novella to dramatic film to an action/adventure video game, could be at its most engaging as a musical? Not me, until I was riveted to my seat by a terrific score, a live orchestra, and a CPCC Summer Theatre cast exploding with spirit and talent.

Conceived for the stage by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn, it took nine years for this unseemly production to make it to Broadway in 1997. In this rendition, Henry Jekyll, a serious scientist obsessed with his father’s descent into mental illness, becomes his own experimental subject. His goal is to cure human suffering by separating good from evil.

It’s a bad idea. His dark side is named Edward Hyde, and once unleashed, Hyde has no intention of letting the good guy call the shots. Though surrounded by a loving fiancé, Emma, and a loyal friend and narrator, John Utterson, Jekyll is overcome by the prurient, revengeful Hyde.

Under the direction of Tom Hollis, this show displays particular pizzazz during songs that feature the whole company of singers and dancers. Linda Booth’s choreography succeeds deliciously when it is sassy and saucy as in "Facade," which was reprised throughout the show. The dancers were a distraction during the tender "Take Me As I Am" duet between Jekyll and Emma.

Jared Bradshaw is captivating as both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, using his magnificent mane, a slouch and a rasp to differentiate between the two. His angst is convincing, and his voice could make Scrooge smile. For all Jekyll’s earnest handsomeness, Bradshaw’s campy portrayal of the predatory Hyde is the more appealing of the two.

Emma, played by Emily Tello, is ideally cast as the fiance who knows she’ll always play second fiddle to work, but makes this seem like an act of independence, rather than subservience. Dressed in sparkling buttery drapery, she trills like a yellow warbler in spring. Greg Glover carries the role of straight man with dignity as Utterson, which keeps the play from sliding into the absurd. Hyde’s lover Lucy, played by Connie, and Tello both shine during "In His Eyes," a visually striking, and musically evocative love duet.

Handsome waistcoats, beaded and brocaded dresses, and pirate outfits were just a few of the astonishing number of costumes fashioned by designer Bob Croghan. In particular, Emma’s elaborate get-ups exuded class and purity. The long leather coat with a telltale red scarf was immensely effective in the transformation of Jekyll to Hyde.

There are some bloodless murders, and many murky scientific details that aren’t too difficult to overlook. However, CPCC would do well to hire someone who knows how to alphabetize actor’s names in the program so the talent can be identified.

Lynn Trenning, June 21, 2002

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