REVIEWS -Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

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note: entire contents copyright 1995 by Larry Stark


"Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde"

               Book & Lyrics by David Levy & Leslie Eberhard
                            Music by Phil Hall
                     Directed by Phillip Wm. McKinley
                       Choreography by Tony Stevens
                     Orchestrations by Michael Gibson
                           Conductor Jim Coleman

                 Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.....Michael X Martin
                 Richard Enfield...............Don Turner
                 Mr. Utterson.........David-Israel Marcus
                 Dr. Gerald Lanyon...........Keith Jochim
                 Amanda Lanyon................Kim Lindsay
                 Mrs. Utterson..........Konstance Kearley
                 Reverend Carew..........Gregory Bouchard
                 Poole.......................Ralston Hall
                 Bubble....................Cheryl McMahon
                 Lily...............Kristie Dale Saunders
                 Peg...........................Amy Arnold
                 Viv.........................Mary Rotella
                 Puck........................Jeff Skowron
                 Mrs. Root................Gwendolyn Jones
                 Mavis.......................Adele Keohan
                 Nurse Bingham...........Catherine Thorpe
                 Constable.......................Roy Bean

                         Scene Design by Greg Hill
                     Costume Design by Scott Alan Lane
                      Lighting Design by Kirk Bookman
                   Sound Design by Andrew E. Skomorowsky
                  Production Stage Manager David Dreyfoos

                         NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
                      sponsored by Pepsi-Cola Company
                          62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY
                              1(508)922-8500
                              till 24 August
                                  


The North Shore Music Theatre production of "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" has a whole new ending written by David Levy, Lesie Eberhard and Composer Phil Hall. After a workshop last year in Ohio this still fluid musical is having its first full-out professional mounting --- one that, in performance and presentation, is the best its creators could ever hope for. Greg Hill has provided a two-level playing-area that rises from the center of the in-the-round set, a metal catwalk and two metal stairways, half a dozen trap-doors, and strobe-lights and other surprises to dazzle the audience.

And solid performances everywhere enhance the energetic story. Michael X. Martin's writhing, spasmic transformations from Jekyll to Hyde are wrenchingly convincing, his voice and those of Kim Lindsay as his pure love and Kristie Dale Sanders as Hyde's mistress are lyrically, forcefully equal to the new score. Directed by Philip Wm. McKinley, Choreographed by Tony Stevens, the cast is swiftly, energetically, forcefully expert on this complicated set.

The show, however, remains a disjointed sketch still in- progress.

The basic story is familiar to anyone from high-school. It's rooted in the late-Victorian judgement about science that there are some things man was not meant to know. When his experimental mice Cain and Abel evidence a mutual moderation of their extreme personalities the doctor rashly concludes he's ready for human trials and shoots up --- to his peril. He doffs his glasses, rumples or sheds his impeccable clothes, sinks to gutter- speech, and blusters through the underworld of London simply taking what, before his fix, he'd never have admitted even to himself he wanted. Naturally, it all ends in tears.

The creators have provided a rich blonde fiancee (Kim Lindsay) with operatic innocence, and a "hothouse rose" dancehall performer (Kristie Dale Sanders) with red hair and a saucy sneer for stagedoor-Jekylls. Each has urges to be like the other, but the main plot has no time to develop this idea --- nor that of the opening song "Two Sides of London" --- to the fullest.

In a brash barroom singalong led by Jeff Skowron and Gwendolyn Jones the chorus agrees that "Life At The Bottom Of The Glass" looks rosier once the ale's been drunk --- yet Jekyll frees the Hyde within him not with a gulp of potion but a hypodermic needle. The beggars and pickpockets of foggy London should contrast with the stuffily unbending gentry, but the elegant ball opening act two is so brief it can't hold a candle to the rowdy ale-drinkers in act one. A butler and a lady's maid (Ralston Hall & Cheryl McMahon) are worldly enough to visit both sides of London, and to instruct the engaged pair in the realities of life --- but they appear so briefly they get to do little more than establish their characters as old, trusted servants.

Perhaps the creative team simply has too much to work with, but the conflict between sharp contrasts and a balanced blurring of contrasts gropes occasionally to the surface. In one scene Amanda, about to try on a pure white ball-gown, wonders why the neckline couldn't be a bit lower, and asks what it's like to "be with" a man. And Lily unlaces her stays and boots to be taken and beaten, yet falls for a fake promise of marriage. Such subtleties only come clear in retrospect; there's too much detail happening for things to be thought about during performance.

At North Shore, all the nuggets buried in this pudding have equal weight, bursting on the audience full-blown, instead of building new insights to a common theme. Everywhere, performances are stunning, staging surprising, and singing fine --- but like the show, some three-part madrigals lose any sense from the lyrics in the entwining melodies. "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" has yet to find its single theme, and to free it from all its conflicted details.

Love,
===Anon.


THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide

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