If you don’t already know the plot of “Jekyll & Hyde,” you probably know the plot of something that alludes to it. A work of horror fiction that is as pervasive in Western culture as Frankenstein and Dracula, “Jekyll & Hyde” is about a doctor, Henry Jekyll, who regularly takes a potion to transform into a villainous alter ego, Edward Hyde, so that he may indulge his vices without risk of being arrested. However, as time passes, the transformation becomes involuntary, with Hyde taking over even when Jekyll does not ingest the serum.
The musical adaptation, which opened on Broadway in 1997, changes Jekyll’s motivations significantly. In this adaptation, Hyde is a kind, charitable man who wants to work to separate the “evil” parts of humans from the “good,” so that the “evil” parts can be done away with. When he is forbidden from experimenting with a formula that he believes will successfully divide these two halves, he decides to experiment on himself, thus creating Hyde.
The gothic style of the original source material, plus the added sentimentality of the musical (they throw in a few romantic interests for good measure) makes for quite the melodramatic show — every song is either a ballad, or in a minor key, but most are both. It’s also quite heavy-handed with its messaging; there are three whole songs called “Façade,” for example, in case you were confused about the show’s central theme.
However, Wolf Pack did what they could with what I found to be a rather tiresome script. The show is carried largely by the actor who plays both Jekyll and Hyde — in this case, Christopher Overly, whose voice had a nice quality that was very well suited to this show’s swelling, orchestral score. Alexa Haines, who played his fiancée, Emma, also had a beautiful voice.
Lexi Haddad rounded out the show’s pseudo-love triangle as Lucy Harris, a prostitute who attracts the attention of Hyde after originally meeting Jekyll. Though the character’s role in the plot is mostly to exemplify Hyde’s cruelty, Haddad brings a complexity to the character as she struggles to understand the kindness Hyde shows her in the song “Sympathy, Tenderness.” Of course, her vocals are also stunning; her impressive range and clear tone were shown off in “Someone Like You,” one of the show’s most recognizable songs.
…the ensemble was one of the show’s greatest assets; the company numbers all sound and looked excellent.
Other standouts include Kenneth Lautz as Simon Stride, a man who has unrequited feelings for Emma. Lautz had a beautiful voice that was criminally under-utilized throughout the show. Similarly, Farah Kidwai and Alex Sands were both relegated to tertiary characters despite performing some of the show’s most breathtaking solo moments. Overall, the ensemble was one of the show’s greatest assets; the company numbers all sound and looked excellent.
Credit must also be given to the technical team — without any physical distinctions between Jekyll and Hyde, aside from some changes in posture, it was lighting design by Technical Director Stephen Beizell that distinguished between the two. And the gorgeous 19th-century garb designed by Rebecca Overly made the entire experience more immersive.
Though the show has its flaws, standout cast members and a memorable score make it worth the watch.
Running Time: Two and a half hours.
Advisory: Contains adult language, sexual themes, and depictions of violence.
“Jekyll & Hyde” plays October 5, 11, and 12 at 8pm and October 6 and 13 at 2pm at the Greenbelt Arts Center, 123 Centerway, Greenbelt, MD. For tickets and information, click here.