Jekyll and Hyde is a musical loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
With music by Frank Wildhorn, book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by Wildhorn, Bricusse and Steve Cuden, the musical made its world premiere in 1990 in Houston, Texas. In 1994 a ‘Complete Works’ CD of the musical was recorded, featuring Australia’s Anthony Warlow. The musical finally had its Broadway debut in 1997. After two cancelled Australian professional productions, the seemingly “cursed” Jekyll and Hyde finally made its Australian professional debut in 2019 as a concert presentation starring Anthony Warlow. However, with just a few performances in both Melbourne and Sydney, the concerts were only seen by a relatively small audience.
With no full commercial production on the horizon in Australia, it provides community theatre groups the opportunity to bring this musical to a new audience. Warragul Theatre Company has assembled an incredibly strong cast for their production of Jekyll and Hyde.
Michael Gray is outstanding in the demanding dual roles of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde. Gray has smooth, rich vocals that effortlessly manage the lush score and his performance of ‘This Is The Moment’ is every bit the anticipated highlight of the show, and fans of this musical would not be disappointed. Gray’s vocal proficiency is matched by the strength of his acting. He easily switches between the two personas, bringing a naive, but philanthropic, enthusiasm to the character of Dr Jekyll, and a sombre and alarming darkness to the persona of Mr Hyde.
Zoe Czempinksi is delightful as Emma Carew. She brings a believable and fierce determination to her character, as a young woman in love and wanting to make her own decisions in life. Playing her concerned and protective father, Sir Danvers Carew, is John Black, in a superb performance.
Michael Zinner is excellent as Gabriel John Utterson, Dr Jekyll’s concerned and caring friend.
Hayley Abery is stunning as Lucy Harris, and shows great sensitivity to her character. Abery demonstrates appropriate restraint when needed, and the softness in her performance is hauntingly beautiful.
The supporting cast and ensemble are all equally strong and maintain a high quality performance throughout the entire show.
Under the musical direction of Yolette Stewart and Sam Stephens, the 18 piece orchestra expertly bring this beautiful music to life.
Choreography by Emillie King is executed with precision and well suited to the full cast.
An excellent lighting design by Jimmi Jones-Ellis creates a suitable mood and aids the contrast between the Jekyll and Hyde personas.
Stunning costumes by Liam Charleston give a very professional appearance to this production and provide each character with an individual and unique look. The darkness of the story is suitably matched by the tones of the costuming, with some appropriate splashes of colour and contrast to help establish and identify characters.
Set design by Keegan Just establishes the period and location. The only distraction is the large “clock” in the centre of the set with the stagnant time that contradicts the passage of time mentioned through the journal entries of Dr Jekyll and seemingly keeping the story at 4 o’clock.
Jekyll and Hyde is a challenging story that explores the concept that we all have the capacity for good and evil within us. It’s a heavy storyline, with complex adult themes, and not your usual bright song and dance blockbuster musical.
Jekyll and Hyde might make you think deeply, but it’s not a feel-good musical, which is a challenge for anyone presenting it. However, Liam Charleston has done an outstanding job as Director to deliver a high quality production that will leave audiences deeply satisfied.
Photo credit: RSF Media