Jekyll & Hyde

Date 21st May 2015
Society BANOS Musical Theatre
Venue Charles Cryer Studio Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Steve Green
Musical Director Jon Aspital
Choreographer Melanie Beggs

Report

Author: Jon Fox

This show works so well in the small space of a studio theatre such as Charles Cryer.   The company had added a further two rows of seats making the intimacy very real.    The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is, of course, very familiar, though the music of this show is definitely not.

Sensibly using minimal staging the imaginative director Steve Green enabled the scenes to flow swiftly and smoothly.   He had designed and personally built two manoeuvrable  double-sided "walls" which were used in the street scenes and as a backdrop for the various "indoor" representations.    Dr. Jekyll's laboratory was on an upstage centre platform.

Kevin Hayes as Jekyll, the brilliant physicist, and Hyde, his alter ego gave a top class performance wearing a more than shoulder length and very realistic wig.    As Jekyll, this was neatly tied back and in the Hyde transformation was unkempt and wild.   His face and manner changed accordingly from the civilized and gentle Jekyll to the contrasting uninhibited and libidinous monster, Hyde.   Wonderful lecherous and mad eyes!   He sang all his songs with panache, be they introspective, emotional or frightening.   The transformation into Hyde and the later confrontation between the two personalities in Act 2 were magnificent.   Truly a tour de force.

The prostitute Lucy Harris he befriended and helped as Jekyll and later stabbed to death as Hyde, was played with sexual allure by Hannah Rapley.   She sang and moved very well too.  "Someone like You" and her sexy number with the other girls of the night in "Bring on the Men" were high spots.

His love interest, Emma Carew, was played with poise and elegance by Helen Clark.   Another quality performance and I much enjoyed her two duets "Take me as I am" with Jekyll and "In His Eyes", with Lucy.   However, the best song in the show for my money was "Once upon a Dream" which Helen sang with real emotion.

Jekyll's lawyer and close friend Gabriel John Utterson, known as John, was convincingly played by Michael Wallbridge.   The goodness in his characterisation always shone through.

Colin Bousfield as Sir Danvers Carew, Emma's father and Chairman of the Hospital board gave a strong performance, singing well.   

Other, soon to be dispatched, members of the Board of Governors who rejected Jekyll's plan were Simon Stride and the Bishop of Basingstoke played respectively by Tim Evans and John Daniels.   Both  actors carried great authority, as too did Michael May as General Glossop.   Carole Daniels endowed Lady Annabel Proops with a strong, upper crust personality.     Alma Griffith was a delightfully snooty Lady Bessie Beaconsfield and an equally snooty Lady Harriet Savage was played by Judy Southey.

Nikki Sowe was a suitably world weary Nellie in the bawdy pub "The Dregs" and, in "charge" of the girls, I particularly liked Gary Staff as the evil and unkempt Spider.   

Roger Gibbs played Jekyll's  faithful manservant, Poole.

Company scenes were tightly drilled and well choreographed by Melanie Beggs and all on stage added to the show.   "Facade" in Act 1 and the very long "London Montage" opening Act 2 were totally atmospheric and real.   Four murders in the "Murder, Murder" scene brought Victorian Whitechapel reality to life, or should that be "death"!

I want to compliment the costumes, make-up and wigs which were all extremely realistic.   These are vital, of course, in any show, but so extra important when the audience were literally only feet away.   Well done, all the ladies responsible.

The four piece band under Musical Director Jon Aspital were always supportive, but never over loud.   Another big plus!   The all important atmosphere was pitched just right with clever lighting designed by Richard Pike and good sound design and effects by Dave Korman.

I came expecting a high quality performance from BANAOS, having deputised as reviewer for "The Producers" in 2013, and I was not disappointed.   I was impressed at how well a cast of thirty people populated a small studio theatre.     It was a very fine production of this famous story and one of which the company and director can be justly proud.

The company treated me and my guest with great courtesy and kindness and I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy and review  this  production.