Mike Fryman & Jessica Adamson in Jekyll & Hyde the Musical. Photo courtesy of CenterStage.
Jekyll and Hyde the Musical
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Book and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden
Review by Leila Toba
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Leila Toba. All rights reserved.
Jekyll & Hyde is a musical horror-drama loosely based on the didactic novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson. The stage adaptation finds itself to be more intriguing, as it introduces the likes of salient female characters, Emma and Lucy, and creates a greater emotional environment for the viewer to further connect with the world of the principal character, Dr. Henry Jekyll.
Before the curtain rises, the audience is greeted with an energetic and well-timed orchestra, artfully directed by Doug Jones. The orchestra sets the scene for excitement and terror, and throughout the show proves its virtue as a crucial staple for this execution of beautifully crafted sound.
Carefully placed sounds of thunder and smart lighting takes us further down the rabbit hole as the story begins, where we meet both the infamous Dr. Jekyll. Immediately Mike Fryman makes his presence known as Jekyll, starting off somewhat timid, yet defiant, in a way that successfully convinces his audience of his noble cause. His vocals are passionate and precise, with a slight, complimentary lean towards Danny Elfman, which becomes him. He belts out challenging notes and manages to sing his great load of music throughout the show with apparent ease, despite his mic occasionally going out. Fryman’s transition to Mr. Hyde is both terrifying and exhilarating, and his capacity for flipping these two egos is impressive.
As the show continues, we meet Sir Danvers Carew (Craig Nolan Highley), and his daughter, who is to be wed to Dr. Jekyll, Emma Carew (Margo Wooldridge). Highley warms the audience with his sincere concern and affection for Jekyll and Emma. His vocals are strong and resonant both in his solo, and company numbers. Wooldridge wears a gentle innocence about her that makes her character likable, and though I wasn’t entirely convinced of her endearment to Jekyll, her vocal abilities in this performance are incredibly potent, with a perfect mix of delicacy and beauty.
The show moves along to The Red Rat, where we see Lucy (Jessica Adamson), and company. Adamson quickly wins the favor of the audience as a playful, coquettish and fun-loving prostitute, who secretly yearns for a new life. While I would have liked to see a heightened passion and deeper connection onstage between her and Mr. Hyde, her powerhouse vocals reign high, as she triumphantly tells her story. Her Lucy is very charming and funny and adds the perfect splash of sex and sorrow to this show.
Jason Cooper knocks it out of the park creating a Victorian Cabaret, largely through impeccable costume design and casting. The company at large was well assembled, the vocals were strong and small additions of characters, such as Spider (Josh O’ Brien) lurking on the outer rim of the stage, (making the entire audience feel as though they were on the wrong side of town!) really added dimension to this well-rounded cast. Some of the choreography in larger company numbers didn’t carry a lot of energy and there were some moments where cast members didn’t appear to know what their next moves (or lyrics in some cases) were. Numbers like “Bring on the Men” really would have benefitted from more movement or excitement from ensemble members. It’s also important to note that the absence of certain numbers that were cut, such as “No One Knows Who I Am”, was felt. As it serves as something of a farewell for Lucy, it felt as if she didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.
Jekyll and Hyde is not to be missed, as it really whisks its viewers away into a world of science and imagination, and is a terrific way to add some magic to your Halloween Season.
Jekyll and Hyde the Musical
October 19, 21, 26, 28, 30, November 2, & 4 @ 7:30 P.M.
October 22, 29, November 5 @2 P.M.
at Jewish Community Center of Louisville
3600 Dutchmans Ln
Louisville, KY 40205
Leila Toba is an actress who has worked with various theatre companies in Louisville.