The Rhode Island Stage Ensemble's winter show is "Jekyll and Hyde:The Musical", the popular Broadway show. This show is adapted from "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", an 1886 novella written by Robert Louis Stevenson. It tells the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a brilliant young doctor who is distraught over his father's mental illness. He tries to find a cure but his experiments with human personality create a murderous counterpart. Convinced the cure lies in the separation of Man's evil nature from his good, he decides to use himself as the test subject. However Jekyll unwittingly unleashes his own dark side, wreaking havoc in the streets of London as the savage, maniacal Edward Hyde. This evil alter ego is a vile murderer who brings a killing spree to London. Director Jason LeClair brings his vision to this show with topnotch direction, acting and singing.
Jason starts the musical off with a dark and somber beginning, opening in an insane asylum to tell the tale of this man's inner struggle between good and evil. Jason's keen insight into all the characters, makes him blend the comic and dramatic moments together splendidly. The chilling, murderous moments leave the audience on the edge of their seats.This magnificent score is played and conducted by Joe Carvalho who taught the ensemble, solo, duets beautifully. Not only do the leading players possess great voices but so does the whole ensemble. Their standout numbers include the five "Facade" songs and the spine tingling, "Murder, Murder." The cast is lead by multitalented Jason Denton who portrays Jekyll and Hyde. The change he makes from character to character is in mannerism, posture and voice. This man possesses a voice with an enormous range from bass which he uses as Mr. Hyde, to high tenor as Dr. Jekyll. Jason changes character during his second transformation song called "Alive" by using facial expressions and his voice soars off the charts in "This Is the Moment", sending chills up your spine. Jason's portrayal blends the tragic qualities of a Dickens character as Jekyll and with a little of "Elephant Man" persona as Hyde. He is a mesmerizing talent who wins your over with his acting and singing prowess.
Pretty statuesque, Hannah Lum is wonderful as the tragic prostitute, Lucy who is reminiscent of Nancy in "Oliver." Lucy loves the wrong man and pays for it in the end. Hannah is a mezzo belter and leads her fellow prostitutes in "Bring on the Men" as well as solos in "Sympathy, Tenderness", "Someone Like You" which stops the show with her powerful rendition and "A New Life". She gives a sympathetic portrayal which endears her to the audience. The other woman in Dr. Jekyll's life is his fiance, Emma excellently played by the lovely brunette, Amy Gingras. This girl has a stunning lyrical soprano voice which soars in her duets, "Letting Go", a pretty ballad with her father, "Take Me as I Am" with Jekyll and "In His Eyes", a gorgeous ballad with Lucy. Amy's poignant solo "Once Upon a Dream" is very impressive with her tender delivery. Her character is a wonderful counterpoint to the dark underworld people in Mr. Hyde's life and Amy carries it off with finesse.
The other performers do a topnotch job, too. The narrators of this tale are Josh Pellitier as Utterson, Jekyll's lawyer and Preston Arnold as Sir Carew, Emma's father. Utterson helps set Jekyll free at the end of the show. Josh shows off his tenor voice in this role. Preston handles the dramatic aspects of this role with ease as well as he does with his vocal numbers.The obnoxious members of the Board who become Jekyll's enemies are Kami Crary as the cowardly, Lady Savage who observes the others being murdered, Justin Moore as the overbearing,Proops, Sam Maslen as the pompous, General Glossop, Anthony Medeiros as the lascivious, Bishop of Basingstoke, LaDelle Arnold who has a terrific soprano voice as the wealthy and bitchy, Lady Beaconsfield and Jason LeClair as Simon Stride, Emma's other suitor who wants to steal her away from Henry Jekyll. Playing the horrible villain of the show is Benjamin Medeiros as gross pimp, Spider. He displays his strong tenor voice in the show. So for a wonderful rendition of this epic tale, be sure to catch RISE's "Jekyll and Hyde:The Musical" before time runs out.