Jekyll and Hyde The Musical

Date 1st September 2017
Society Bexhill Light Opera and Dramatic Society (BLODS)
Venue De la Warr Pavilion Bexhill
Type of Production Musical
Director Kitson Wellard
Musical Director Matt Lewis
Choreographer Sophia Lefavre


Author: Anne Lawson

A first for me - a musical horror drama based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, first produced in the US in 1997, a collaboration of Wildhorn, Bricusse and Cuden.

The audience walked into an atmospheric dark 1880’s hospital scene where a perplexed Dr Jekyll whilst visiting his failing, incarcerated father sings ‘Lost in the Darkness’ believing that the evil in his soul caused his illness and is determined to find out why man is both good and evil singing ‘I Need to Know’. John Utterson is Dr Jekyll’s lawyer and best friend. Sir Danvers Carew, a member of the Asylum Board of Governors is Father-in-law to be.  Research proposals are presented to the Governors. Proposing his formula be tested on a human, they reject, but Utterson urges him to continue. An engagement party is held where guests think Emma is doing the wrong thing – engaged to a madman! She’s undeterred.  Jekyll and John visit the notorious ‘Red Rat’ where prostitute Lucy Harris is in trouble with pimp boss Spider. She is both well liked and kind hearted singing ‘No One Knows Who I Am’. Roughly sent on stage she performs ‘Bring on the Men’. Wanting to help her Jekyll leaves his card, returns to his lab, mixes chemicals and injects himself. A transformation occurs and he roams the streets of London.  Unheard of for a week he sends his butler out for more chemicals and gives Utterson 3 letters should he become ill or disappear.  Lucy unexpectedly arrives at Jekyll’s home with nasty bruising, telling him a man named Hyde inflicted them.  The Bishop of Basingstoke has a liaison with another ‘Red Rat’ girl – Hyde insults, beats and kills him. Utterson and Danvers talk to the audience – both worried – citizens gossip and Hyde continues killing. Concerned Emma visits his lab and sees his journal.  Distraught she begs him to confide in her ‘Once Upon a Dream’. Hyde then visits, stabs and slits Lucy’s throat having pre-warned her to flee. Returning to his lab he faces his final battle for control. During his wedding ceremony he kills Stride. Utterson tells the audience Jekyll has given up his task of finding the truth, and Jekyll begs John to kill him.  Desperate, Jekyll impales himself on Utterson’s swordstick. Emma weeps as Jekyll dies, finally free of Hyde’s evil.

Six talented musicians played under the guidance of Matt virtually nonstop - at times overshadowing script.  Soloists were well polished.  Mikes at times created harsh high notes particularly from the ensemble. Having said that Kenny’s powerful songs were superbly executed and his transformation from the gentle, passionate Jekyll to murderous Hyde stunning. Emma played by Jess Wellard, talented wife of Director Kitson complementing Kenny with delightful duets. There was much to learn and the numerous pieces were well rehearsed. Movement was slick - sexy movements from corseted ‘Red Rat’ girls and especially slick was the big number ‘Murder’ using newspapers – good party dancing, use of brollies most effective.

The set was brilliantly simple with back projection giving a professional finish.  A mention to young Callum for his computer expertise in producing historic images perfectly timed.  The main large pieces were supplied by Scenic –  fully equipped folding lab, huge transformation mirror, very heavy chemical cabinet, Victorian fireplace. Height changes using two rostrums and steps made for interesting grouping and a single shaped window in Lucy’s room, her raised bedstead and side table made a wonderful position for Danielle Taylor’s emotional numbers and final demise. Good use of auditorium and steps – the newsboys etc. Lighting and sound effects, dry ice, blood curdling killings so atmospheric.  Colours interesting particularly using orange and spots.  Movement of furniture was quiet – well thought through creating the minimum of fuss.

Wardrobe created a Victorian feel – excellent individual Governor characters, elegance for Emma, sexy for Lucy and cheeky Nellie with eye catching black/red for the brothel scene.  Hairstyles were well chosen, perfect lace up boots, wigs, and accessories. 

This was an edge of your seat production, great orchestration, with the three main characters supported well by Darrell Willis as Jekyll’s friend John, Tim Gordon making a caring father,  Carew, Steve Pickering a believable horror Pimp ‘Spider’, with Andy Mould doubling as loyal butler and Sir Archibald Proops. Lee Lyons was Simon Stride, Alex Wengraf-Hewitt a very naughty Bishop of Basingstoke, John Harrigan as Lord Savage, Colin Adams a regal General Lord Glossop, and Julia Croft an elegant Lady Beaconsfield.  They all stage ‘died’ superbly. BLODS new Production Manager Kitson directed this first-class performance – the start I hope of many more after the three-year absence. Kenny Giles was the power and the rest of the cast truly supported this amazing role.  Congratulations to all front, on and behind stage members.