Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Jekyll & Hyde"

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entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"Jekyll & Hyde"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Norton Singers current show is the blockbuster musical, "Jekyll & Hyde". The show is adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". 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 by using himself as the test subject but the experiment backfires and gives life to his evil alter ego, Edward Hyde, a vile murderer who brings a killing spree to the city of London. This show is one of the best musicals around and it has topnotch direction, acting and singing, making it a must see show of the season.

Director Ted Mitchell casts this huge 30 member cast wonderfully. He moves this huge cast around the stage with ease, using the two upper balconies of the theatre for Mr Hyde's first entrance and for the final sequence with the upper crust snobs who are Hyde's victims and the Red Rat people on opposite balconies. Ted gets the pathos this epic tale needs to show man's inner struggle between good and evil and leaves the audience on the edge of their sets during the chilling murder scenes. Anthony Torelli conducts his 18 piece orchestra beautifully and once again does a superb job teaching the ensemble, solo, duet and quartet numbers. The whole cast has excellent singing voices to deliver the best rendition to this magnificent score. The chorus numbers include the three "Facade" songs and the spinetingling, "Murder, Murder" are harmonic gems. (The red lit scrim added the necessary bloodlike feeling to the murder segments.) The choreography by Judee and Courtney Bottomley really shines in the dance hall scene, "Bring on the Men" where the six girls try to entice the patrons with their their charms while doing a can can and kickline dance. Another important part of this show is the multitude of gorgeous 1880's Victorian costumes designed and created by Dan Kozar. It gives the show an authentic look it needs with the high society and street people garb.

The cast is lead by the multitalented Kevin Mischley who portrays Jekyll and Hyde. His voice ranges from a guttural bass as the evil Hyde to a high baritone as Jekyll. His acting in this dual role is fantastic and his voice soars in "This Is The Moment" when he finally decides to use himself with these experimental drugs. Kevin uses facial expressions and writhing on the floor during "The Transformation" song and becomes scary as Hyde in "Alive" when he enters from the balcony, climbs down it and attacks Lucy for the first time. His best acted song is "The Confrontation" where he changes back and forth as the both characters with the vocal changes and the positioning of his hair in and out of his eyes. Kevin's portrayal blends the tragic qualities of a Dickens character as Jekyll and a Bill Sikes persona as Hyde. His excellent rendition of this complex role will mesmerize you and keep you captivated all night long. Bravo on a job well done.

Aimee Doherty, a terrific actress plays the tragic prostitute, Lucy who is similar to Nancy in "Oliver". She loves the wrong man and pays for it in the end. Aimee is a fantastic belter who leads the girls in "Bring on the Men" but she also sings some lovely ballads including "No Knows Who I Am", "Sympathy, Tenderness", "Someone Like You" (where she soars off the charts with her powerful delivery and stops the show with the audience's applause.) and the emotional, yearning to escape her past in "A New Life". Aimee is at home with comic and dramatic roles and she gives Lucy the sympathetic portrayal so the audience can empathize with her plight. The other woman in Jekyll's life is his fiancee, Emma, played by Kevin's real life wife, Jennifer. She uses her stunning lyrical soprano voice in her duets, "Letting Go" a pretty ballad with her father, "Take Me As I Am" with Jekyll and "In His Eyes", a gorgeous song with Lucy. My favorite number is Jennifer's poignant solo, "Once Upon a Dream" where she tries to remind Henry Jekyll what they mean to each other. Her impressive delivery will bring tears to your eyes. The character of Emma is a wonderful counterpoint to the dark underworld people in Hyde's life and Jen carries it off with the finesse it needs with her impressive acting skills.

Some of the other talented performers handle their roles with ease, in both singing and acting. Pete Molitor plays the sympathetic lawyer, Utterson who tries to convince Jekyll his dangerous experiments will end tragically while Jonathan Dost plays the kindly father of Emma who tries to warn her that Jekyll might not be the right man for her. The obnoxious board members, who become Hyde's victims because of their treatment of Jekyll, are Ty Waterman as the cowardly, Lord Savage, Jeff Mahoney as the disgustingly lascivious, Bishop who procurs young prostitutes to satisfy him, (Jeff plays a much older and fatter man as the Bishop but his powerful voice comes across perfectly in this role.) Don Powers as the pompous windbag, General Glossup, Louise Tetreault as the rich bitchy, Lady Beaconsfield, (her powerful soprano voice soars in the songs as the evil old battleaxe) Brian Gustafson as the snobby, Sir Proops, and Jay Silvi as the nasty Simon Stride, Emma other suitor who wants to steal her away from Jekyll. Three other characters with strong singing voices are Dan Gravely who plays the whoremaster, Spider ( his strong tenor voice soars in the Facade numbers) Kelly Seng as the madam, Nellie (her strong soprano voice is impressive) and Christian Herrera as the Newsboy who leads the "Murder, Murder" group song. Rounding out this impressive cast are Bob Molitor, Myra Schwartz, Buddy and Elaine Sheiber, Ethan Serkey, Peter Turner, Kristine Kinna, Atia Gravely, Emily Johnson, Courtney Bottomley, Valerie Fortes, Linda Zogalis, Joan Geddry, Louis Fontaine, Karen Ross, Elise Goodman and Jillian Wegrocki. So for an excellent theatrical production, be sure to catch "Jekyll & Hyde". You won't be disappointed and be sure to tell them that Tony sent you to enjoy all the thrills and chills of the Victorian tale.

"Jekyll & Hyde" (4 - 13 June)
Wheaton College, 26 East Main Road,NORTON MA
1 (508) 285-3280

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide