Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see John's review of Violet
Set in 19th century London, Jekyll & Hyde is the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Ben Sandomir) who struggles to find a possible cure to the general nature of the duality of mankind. His quest is born out of his desire to heal the troubled mind of his own father who now lies comatose in an insane asylum. He believes he must find a way to separate the good and evil inside the mind in order that he might "save those who have fallen into darkness." With his best friend John Utterson (Geoffrey Short) at his side, he goes before the Board of Governors of St Jude's Hospital with his research proposal. They are a sanctimonious lot and reject his proposal with derision. Jekyll is so distracted that night at his own engagement party to the lovely Emma Danvers (Caitlin Frost), that his friends take him out afterward for a night on the town. They end up at the Red Rat where they are entertained by singer and prostitute Lucy Harris (Alexandria Lugo). Lucy is smitten with Jekyll's kindness toward her, as it is not something she often sees in her line of work. When Jekyll resolves to test his medical experiments on himself he discovers another side, one that is far from kind, and his name is Mr. Hyde. Jekyll battles for control of his own duality as his experiment grows increasingly out of control, and Hyde, when he is present, seeks vile revenge and dark pleasure wherever he may.
The Marquee production is marked by some exceptional performances. Ben Sandomir is truly impressive as both Jekyll and Hyde. The dual role requires an enormous amount of singing which he makes his way through tirelessly. More importantly is the difficult acting required of this part, especially in the "Confrontation" song in the second act when both characters argue in song. He does a stellar job conveying the conflict of his character throughout the show. This is the best work his that I've seen, and his performance will be a hard act to follow.
Caitlin Frost as Jekyll's fiancée Emma has a centered, calm, and loving softness that speaks of her patience and love for Jekyll. She brings a feeling that is steadfast and true to strengthen what otherwise might be a passive character. She has a sort of glow at times that is more mature than her years would lead one to expect.
In her songs, Alexandria Lugo owns the stage as Lucy, with a broad voice and stage presence. She is at times overly presentational, however, and sings around written notes in favor of other options. Fortunately, the vocal options she takes work because she sells the heck out of them, it would be better to hear Lucy sing what is on the page. Lugo's energy is strong and high, and an excellent juxtaposition to the calmness of Emma.
There are some glitches here and there, such as slow lighting cues, a slow scene change, a severely tardy entrance, some hit and miss costuming, and a bit of unevenness in the level of acting ability from members of the ensemble. There are also some moments of brilliance, such as the lighting at the top of the second act that casts two shadows for the each of the two upstage charactershighlighting, of course, the duality that lies beneath the "façade" of which they sing. I also enjoyed the increasing amounts of blood red clothing worn by the members of the ensemble as they sing of each new murder in the newspaper. Both scenic design and choreography make good use of the space, and sound quality is solid throughout the show. Though this production does not feature a live orchestra, the music is well played and well balanced with the singers, whether in solos or full cast numbers. Other than tiny tweaks needed here and there, this production of Jekyll & Hyde is well done and well worth seeing.
Jekyll & Hyde was first presented in May of 1990 at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas before going on to open on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on April 28, 1997. The Broadway production closed on January 7, 2001, after 1,543 performances, receiving two Drama Desk Awards and four Tony Award nominations.
In addition to Jekyll & Hyde, the works of composer Frank Wildhorn include The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Dracula, the Musical, Bonnie and Clyde, Cyrano de Bergerac, the Musical, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Mata Hari. For Jekyll & Hyde he is aptly teamed with lyricist and composer Leslie Bricusse whose own works include Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, Victor/Victoria, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Scrooge, Hook, Pickwick, Doctor Dolittle, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
The Marquee Theater Company production of Jekyll & Hyde will be appearing through February 7, 2016, at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater, 12811 Glades Rd. in Boca Raton FL. For tickets and information, call 954-464-8249 or visit http://www.marqueetheatercompany.com.