Jekyll & Hyde
25th April 2012
The Met, Bury, Manchester
Type of Production
Author: Kevin Proctor
Choreographer: Helen Wilkinson
Jekyll and Hyde, Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden’s musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella has never really found its way on the stage. On Broadway, the production ran for four years, received lukewarm reviews and managed to close on a sizeable loss. Despite this, both amateur groups and professional producers continue to have faith in this piece.
In the Prologue we see Dr Jekyll with his dying father which instantly gets the audience on Jekyll’s side.
The mammoth challenges of the complex title roles were passionately portrayed by Jeff Harpin. I wanted nothing more than to feel for Jekyll and support him on his mission but I soon found it a struggle to be engrossed with his journey which is by no means a criticism on Jeff’s performance. Vocally, without question Jeff was suited to the role and competently held his own oozing with confidence and experience as the leading man / men!
The interpretation of Mr Hyde with his swooping cloak, glaring stares to the audience and gruff voice was a little too close to a pantomime villain for me, a couple of one-to-one sessions with the director to develop a physicality of Mr Hyde as a more sinister and chilling character and less caricature would have worked in both their favours.
Direction by Nick Angus was good, he used the snug space well and visually created some nice moments. I would have liked the deaths to have been a little more inventive and gruesome, it was a shame the action didn’t always match to what was going on musically, for example, the stabs during the Bishops death failed to sync with the orchestral stabs which turned what should be a hard hitting moment into something which looked quite comical. However, on the whole and from a Directors point of view, this was still a production to be pleased with.
Kirsty Hatton brought elegance to the role of Emma, her voice was graceful and she acted with sincerity and wit contrasting beautifully with Shelly Byrne as the feisty, but lovable Lucy. Shelly literally threw everything into the pot resulting in a well delivered performance, although some of the songs were a tad big for her, it really didn’t hinder her performance.
The ensemble of aristocrats and urchins sung well, it was a little disappointing that the sound balance wasn’t better as it was often hard to hear them over the Orchestra.
Ensemble movement was a bit hesitant at times giving the impression of being shaky on their feet but the level of energy and use of facial expressions during ensemble numbers must not go unmentioned.
The set did the job and the costumes looked great adding to the productions gothic ambiance.
The Orchestra sounded great, it was just a shame that the sound levels were unbalanced giving the impression that they were too loud much to the frustration of the MD and her players, the Director, Cast and Audience.
This is the first time I’ve seen this musical in its entirety, it feels like it is trying to be a show it isn’t, Oliver? Les Mis, Sweeney, Threepenny or Phantom? At one point I saw a glimpse of Beauty and the Beast coming through!!
Although this show is not my ideal cup-of-tea, I still enjoyed some very skilled and polished performances which injected the kick I think this show needs.
Particular highlights were ‘Once Upon A Dream’ though ‘In His Eyes’ was undoubtedly the productions strongest moment.
Congratulations to PADOS and all involved.