Jekyll + Hyde

Date 4th November 2022
Society Maghull Musical Theatre Company
Venue Southport Little Theatre, Hoghton Street, Southport
Type of Production Musical
Director Ian Culshaw + Betty Hall (Assistant)
Musical Director Andrew Standeven
Choreographer Betty Hall


Author: Jim Briscoe

Jekyll and Hyde, a musical staged by Maghull Musical Theatre Company at Southport Little Theatre, Hoghton Street, Southport on Friday, 4th November, 2022.

Based on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson and featuring a thrilling score of pop rock hits from multi-Grammy-and Tony-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double-Oscar- and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse, Jekyll & Hyde has mesmerized audiences the world over, featuring songs such as “Lost in the Darkness”, “Someone like You” and “This is the Moment”. This is an evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself– both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret. A devoted man of science, Dr. Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve mankind's most challenging medical and moral dilemma. Rebuffed by the powers that be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr. Hyde. Be immersed in the myth and mystery of London’s fog-bound streets where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling twist and turn.

Southport Little Theatre was over three quarters full and the “buzz of anticipation” from the Societies loyal supporters was tangible!  Social Media had been awash since opening night with comments like… “Fit for the West End stage”, “Best amateur show I have seen in a long time”, “It was like watching a Professional Company opening up in the provinces before taking it into the West End”, “Better than some professional productions”, “Incredible cast”, “Fabulous production”, “Remarkable” “A leading man that most societies only dream of” … WAS THIS JUST SOCAIL MEDIA HYPE?  So, when I took my seat, I just sat back and waited for those curtains to open and to see for myself!  I hear you ask… ‘were those comments true?’  Let me assure you… right here right now… OMG YES!

PRODUCTION TEAM… overseeing this production were Ian Culshaw (Director) and Betty Hall (Assistant Director / Choreographer).  Ian and Betty had gathered together an incredible array of talented actors who were obviously well rehearsed and as soon as those curtains parted were ready, capable and willing to give it their all!  Well done you two… truly amazing job!  Andrew Standeven (Musical Director) had under his wing an amazingly talented thirteen-piece orchestra.  The musical accompaniment was superb affording principals and chorus members alike, the chance to shine without being overpowered by the orchestration. The singing was amazing, the harmonies superb, the attention to detail enhanced this production so much… congrats Andrew impressive job sir!

THE CAST … by now, you’re all probably aware of the format of my reviews… this is where I ‘stick the old neck out’ and select MY favourites, MY ‘Showstopper’… for once, I think we may all be in ‘sync’ … MY ‘SHOWSTOPPER’…
Chris Rimmer who took on the ‘lead role’ of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and made it his own! Chris just oozed confidence, his characterisation was powerful, commanding and flawless…  every twitch, every facial expression was timed to perfection! When I’m asked to speak to Youth Groups about performance, I always focus on the ‘Eyes’ … through Chris’s eyes you could see a myriad feeling… pain and aggression, humility and kindness!  His vocals were amazing (you would never have guessed he was struggling a little with his voice). This performance would not have been out of place on a West End stage, it’s one we won’t forget for a long while … a ‘master class’… be ever so proud Chris!   With a cast of thirty-five it would impossible to highlight, in depth everyone, but I would like to give ‘shout outs’ to three others… firstly, our two leading ladies who were amazing!  Phoebe Hill and Kay Davies played ‘Lucy Harris’ and ‘Emma Carew’ respectively!  Phoebe took on the role of ‘prostitute’ Lucy, who Jekyll meets at The Red Rat Pub and who has relationships with both ‘Jekyll’ and then ‘Hyde’. Phoebe made this part her own! Her ability to turn from ‘strong to fearful’ from ‘sensitive to sensual’ in a moment was amazing!  Great voice, great vocals… loved her rendition of ‘Someone Like You’ and her duet with Kay ‘In His Eyes’ whilst both thinking about their love for Jekyll was… sensational… be ever so proud Phoebe!  Kay’s performance was as impressive!  She conveyed with ease her struggle between her love for Jekyll and her worry about his experiments and what he was becoming! Great stage presence, great voice, great vocals, again the duet with Phoebe was sensational, be ever so proud Kay. Finally, John Delahunty played ‘John Utterson’, the steadfast friend and solicitor to Jekyll who watches his friend go through a whole range of emotions and who is left helpless as he witnesses Jekyll finally self-destruct!  A very self-assured performance which captured the character perfectly.  The chemistry, the concerned looks, the facial expressions between John and Jekyll, even when not front and centre, were totally believable, a ‘perfect fit for this part…  be ever so proud John!  Les Gomersall took on the role of ‘Sir Danvers Carew’, Liam Rabbette played ‘Simon Stride’, Matt Christiansen played ‘Lord Savage’, Becky Barrie played ‘Lady Bessie Beaconsfield’, Colin Kilbride played ‘Bishop of Basingstoke’, Chris Barrie played ‘General Lord Glossop’, Ingrid Cleverly played ‘Baroness Amelia Proops’, John Ball played ‘Poole’, Lee Ashall played ‘Spider’, Heather Gomersall played ‘Nellie’ and Matt Casson understudied and played ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ on the Saturday Matinee.

THE ENSEMBLE ... playing ‘Prostitutes’ were Alicia Allen, Alexandra Ashall, Leanne Cooney, Sarah Fletcher, Heather Gomersall, Kayleigh Ginley, Hayley King, Alice McKillop and Susanne Morris! Playing ‘The Rich’ we had Yasmin Cranny, Gill Culshaw, Phil Hutchinson (who also played ‘The Priest’), Carol Kennedy, Sally Lane and Audrey Russell. Playing the ‘Poor’ we had Alicia Allen, Matt Casson, Bob Cleverly (who also played ‘Bisset’), Leanne Cooney, Colin Dryden, Kayleigh Ginley, Hayley King, Stephen Henshaw, Ed McKillop, Dan McWaters, Alice McKillop and Suzanne Morris…. all played their parts wonderfully well and enhanced the show so much, be proud!

THE ORCHESTRA ... led by Andrew Standeven (MD), included Janet Hitchen, Jess Holding and Jenny McGowan (Strings); Sarah Dutch, William Lacey-Kiggins, John Padfield (Woodwind); Hilary Burgoyne, Cory Gerard (Keyboard); Cliff Ray, Emma and Tim Lenahan (Brass); Adam Dutch and Mike McKay (Bass + Percussion) wonderful sound, accompanied the cast superbly, enhanced the show so much… be proud all of you!

STAGE and TECH … Radley Haynes (Stage Manager) and June Beswick (Assistant S/M) were in charge backstage and made a great job of handling this superb set!  Stage Crew / Flyman: Pete Beswick, Chris Morris
and Colin Haynes (respectively) … should be proud… scene changes were clean and sharp… well-done guys!  Sound was crisp and clear under the watchful eye of Matt Hughes.  But what was truly impressive throughout, was the ‘Lighting’ which created so much! Loved the lighting for the opening scene (which was staged to perfection by the way) with the ’shaft of white light’ that lit the bed and surrounding area… I also loved the ‘four shafts of red light and the haze that just enhanced the lighting’ when ‘Jekyll’ and ‘Hyde’ were ‘fighting with themselves’, impressive… be ever so proud Andrea Shacksmith-Claire!   We also had Corinna Davies and Alex McKillop on ‘Follow Spots’ well-done folks!

Costumes were splendid and enhanced the production ever so much!  Sourced from ‘The Costume Store’. 
Props… were perfect and used ever so well. Not sure if we can call this a ‘personal prop’, but it had to be mentioned somewhere… the ‘hair piece’ worn by Chris Rimmer to turn from ‘Jekyll into Hyde’ was a wonderful ‘prop’ – it transformed him and his character ever so well, so quickly with effortless ease… wasn’t sure where to include, but had to be included somewhere!

I’m not really sure how to end this review other than to say the ‘STANDING OVATION’ the applause and the ‘hoots and hollas’ that greeted the finale said it all!  For those that missed this production then you missed a ‘gem’… this truly was an impressive piece of theatre from first note to last, with principals ‘on top of their game’ and an Ensemble that were up there with the best!  I had the privilege to be part of the ‘Civic Party’ that went backstage after the performance to meet and speak with the cast, as I said then…. just four words …  ‘BE EVER SO PROUD’!

Thank you so much for inviting my wife and I, for your welcome and your hospitality throughout… really appreciated… what a way to end your 50th Anniversary Celebrations… hope to see you all again soon…
can’t wait for ‘Calam’….

Stay safe and keep well
‘Stronger Together’

Jim Briscoe
District 6 Rep