Jekyll & Hyde

Date 6th April 2019
Society Winterbourne Musical Theatre
Venue Winterbourne Community Centre, Winterbourne
Type of Production Musical
Director Maggie Williams
Musical Director Rob Pardoe
Choreographer Maggie Williams


Author: Dee Way

This is a big show that requires good technical support and excellent acting and singing, so I was interested to see how a production in a smaller venue would work.  I need not have been concerned: this production was extremely well planned, performed and supported throughout.  

The Direction was very well thought through, using the different levels of staging to create good visual interest and variety, and allowing the cast to get close up to the audience, drawing us into the story.  The background action was atmospheric and at just the right level, engaging without being distracting. The hooded figures with torches shining onto their faces looked both spooky and very sinister, while the snootiness of Lady Beaconsfield and her fellow hospital board members was very nicely portrayed and the chorus created some really exceptionally vibrant characters.

The set was excellent, with red brick walls and a London skyline quickly defining the location.  The moon gobo was most effective, too, in setting the scene at night. The scene changes to the 'Red Rat' and the laboratory were very well handled.  I loved the fact that the stage had cast on it from the opening of the doors, selling programmes, chatting and generally establishing their characters before the show started, and giving plenty of movement and interest at all times. 

The costumes were amazing: so many dresses in indicative colours, such as the red and black for the prostitutes and the more insipid colours for the gentry.  Hair and make-up were very well done, with good hair-pieces and wigs that truly matched the natural hair. It was good to see authentic looking boots for the ladies!

The music, very well played on two keyboards, melded well, creating great tension at times that was most effective.  The support given to the singers was excellent, with nice pauses at times and a good mix of tempi.

One of the main challenges of this show is the vocal strength required by the actor of Jekyll and other soloists. I was amazed at how well this company dealt with these demands.  All the singers performed their pieces with great clarity and strength, but also with character and sensitivity. It was really good to see such a wide age range of actors onstage, giving much greater sense of real life that is often found. 

Overall, this was a wonderfully engaging performance of a big show that was extremely well fitted into a small community hall, with minimal musicians and wonderful singers.  Indeed, there were gasps from the audience at times when Hyde acted outrageously that gave a good indication as to how involved we had become with the action onstage. I know that I left feeling emotionally drained, as I am sure that many others did, due entirely to the excellent performances of the cast, the creation onstage of the dreadful events that comprise the story, and the superb atmosphere created in the venue.  Congratulations to you all!