Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Jekyll & Hyde"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Bob Guenthner a k a The Old Grump

"Jekyll & Hyde"
New Bedford Festival @ The Zeiterion Theatre

reviewed by The Old Grump


book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
music by Frank Wildhorn
conceived for the stage by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn

David Weitzer - Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Suzanne Williams - Lady Beaconsfield AND Nellie
Julie Rogelstad - Lucy Harris
Allison Mosier - Emma Carew
Tony Ferreira - Sir Danvers Carew
Simon Stride - Mathew Rodriguez
Scott Simpkin - Lord Savage & Spider
John Ashley, John Michael Dias, Stephen Ferreira, John M. Costa, Suzanne Williams, Madie-Lynn Ferreira, Matthew Furtado, Seth Goulart, Brianne Alves, Justin Bettencourt, Dawn Boucher, Evan Crothers, Peter-Henry DaSilva, Roger DaSilva, Jessica Delbridge, Margaret Felice, Tracey Gendreau, Cindi Loria, William Steeves, Eric Pereira

Musical Direction - Tobias S. Monte
Musical Staging - Jean-Paul Richard
Directed by - George Charbonneau

This musical is either loved or hated. I haven't found many theater goers that didn't fit into one category or the other. There is a group that is crazy about the show. They are called Jekkies. Since this is my twenty-seventh time seeing the show, I guess I can be qualified to be called one.

This version at the Z was a combined production. Some equity, some non-equity, and the majority local talent. I have to be honest, and say that this show was not the equal to a regular touring company, but this doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. I did enjoy it very much. A $20 bill for a front row seat doesn't hurt my wallet a great deal.

Before I say what I liked about the show, I am going to say what I didn't like.

In all the other versions that I have seen, Simon Stride is portrayed as a strong, angry person, who is in love with Emma Carew. Her rejection makes him a brooding enemy to Dr. Jekyll. In this play, Stride looked like a silent film villain, with a long crooked mustache. His facial contortions were that of a buffoon, not the intelligent man Stride was. At the wedding ceremony, he is killed by Hyde, but before his demise he acts like he belongs in a Three Stooges flick. not a dramatic musical.

There was some accidental humor in the show I saw. One of Hyde's victims was left lying on the stage as the curtain fell on act one. Two young fellows came out to carry him away. The trouble began when the guy in charge of the upper body, kept stepping on a cape and couldn't lift the corpse. When he finally moved the cape, his glasses fell off and he had to retrieve them. At last he lifted the poor dead man. He then dropped him on his head. The audience roared with laughter as the other fellow had enough and dragged the body off the stage by his heels. A good round of applause followed.

Now for the good parts. The dark haired Julie, is a voluptuous young lady. She made a very sexy Lucy the prostitute. Her singing, dancing, and acting was very well done.

Scott Simpkin in a dual role did a fine piece of work. His foppy Lord Savage was very funny. As Spider, Lucy's pimp, his make up and acting were very believable.

Allison made a lovely Emma. She is a pretty girl, with an excellent voice. She gave the prim and proper debutante just enough spice to make her human. I do think that Allison ranks with the best I have seen in this role.

David to say the least, worked his butt off. This is a demanding part, both physically and vocally. He is a handsome chap, who was able to transform him self into the beastly Hyde with just the shake of his hair. During the song The Transformation, David crawled to the edge of the stage while singing, placing himself no more than four feet from the people in the front row. With eyes that radiated madness, he growled his song at the somewhat nervous, but pleased audience.

Out of the many actors I have seen in the leads of this show, I would have to put David in the top two or three, and Allison would also be near or at the top of my best list.

This show has another weekend to go, with Friday and Saturday evenings, followed by a matinee on Sunday. I know that there are good seats available. Do yourself a favor and treat your self to a wonderful show.

Meeting David and Allison after the show, I was able to have my snap taken with each of them, as well as getting their autographs. The two of them took me to the stage and showed me some of the furniture that came from the original Broadway version. It was a thrill for me to spend time with these two lovely actors.

"Jekyll & Hyde" (1 - 24 August)
The Zeiterion Theatre, 684 PURCHASE Street, NEW BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS
1 (508)994-2900

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide