The Festival Players’ 2006 show saw the company take on Frank Wildhorn’s musical reworking of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous tale of split personalities. Founder member Brian ‘Tommy’ Thomas took on multiple roles, sharing musical direction with regular leading lady Linda Thomas, directing the show, and designing the sets.
Director Brian Thomas
Musical Director Brian and Linda Thomas
Assistant Director Suzanne Emerson
Lighting Design Ben Payne
Sets Brian Thomas
Costume Design Liz Milway
J&H CURTAIN CALL REVIEW (Volume 12, No. 6 (October 2006))
“Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical”, is one of those shows that I always meant to see performed professionally, and somehow never did. I have been familiar with the music for quite a while now, and even own a copy on CD. But the Festival Players’ production of this show was the first I had seen in the flesh, so to speak.
Basically, “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” is based on the famous story by Robert Louis Stephenson called “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” with a little poetic licence. Written by Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn, it’s quite a memorable gothic type show. It tells the story of scientist Henry Jekyll who believes he can separate the good and evil within a person. Refused support in finding volunteers to test his formula on, Jekyll tests it on himself and creates his own evil side, Edward Hyde.
I saw the Festival Players’ final night and, unfortunately, it was uncomfortably hot. I’m not sure that I quite liked seeing the cast having their makeup applied in front of the waiting audience outside, but I guess the dressing rooms were too hot.
The show requires a large cast and the Festival Players were certainly not short of talented performers. Neal Upton playing Jekyll/Hyde obviously had the most difficult time. As well as being the main character on stage, he had to differentiate his two characters from each other. This he achieved to perfection and he had a wonderful singing foice as well.
The rest of the cast were equally talented, and I apologise that I will be unable to mention everyone in this short space. Mark Long played John Utterson, Jekyll’s friend with great aplomb and the two love interests (Amy Castledine as Emma and Dawn Furbank as Nellie*) were very convincing.
I really only had once criticism of this production. On several occasions the chorus joined the orchestra in the pit and in certain seats in the theatre their entrances and exits could be seen. They really needed all to arrive together and leave together to lessen the distraction this caused for the audience, or perhaps they could have sung from the wings? Just a thought.
The sets and costumes were excellent and provided just the right amount of atmosphere, as did the lighting.
Certainly this is a good show for amateur groups and I’m looking forward to others in the area in the future, but they have a lot to live up to!
Review by Jane Dickerson
* We believe this is intended to read, “Antonia Grantham as Lucy”
“THEATRE REVIEW: Jekyll n Hyde” By Jan Gilbert
Though yet to make its West End debut, the musical Jekyll and Hyde has enjoyed nearly 4 years on Broadway, as well as a professional UK tour starring Paul Nicholas. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic The Strange Cast of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, it tells the story of a scientist in late Victorian England whose experiments to separate good from evil end up unleashing his own dark side.
Frank Wildhorn composed the show’s music, and Leslie Bricusse, whose credits include over 40 musicals and films from James Bond to Willy Wonka, wrote the book and lyrics. So, not surprisingly, the show has many musical highlights including the show-stopping ‘This Is The Moment’ and the main Company numbers, ‘Murder, Murder’ and ‘Façade’, both of which have up to six- or seven-part harmonies.
Indeed the challenging nature of the production will no doubt put off many am-dram groups, but not the Cambridge Festival Players, one of the first amateur companies in the UK to perform the show. And they’ve really done it justice.
Neal Upton excels as Dr Jekyll. It’s a particularly demanding role given the range and amount of singing, as well as the sheer time spent on stage. But Upton manages to convince as both sides of the tortured scientist, even skilfully pulling off a musical number in which both Jekyll and Hyde perform together.
Amy Castledine also shines as Jekyll’s fiancée Emma Carew. And in the role of Lucy Harris, a victim of Hyde’s advances, Antonia Grantham moves effortlessly between lively numbers and ballads.
Director Brian Thomas deals capably with a show by turns moving, chilling, and comic. And Suzanne Emerson shows real potential in her direction of the superbly staged ‘Bring On The Men’ routine, belted out by Grantham with the Red Rat Girls providing support.
The stage design takes the cast convincingly from Jekyll’s lab to the Red Rat pub via numerous other locales, at times making clever use of folding screens to avoid unnecessary scene shifting. Time has also been well spent on costumes, right from the chorus filled with London’s rich and poor to Jekyll himself, whose black cape lined in red visually signals his changes to Hyde.
Apart from a few technical hitches, the show cannot be faulted; cast, production team, and orchestra all contributing to produce a very professional performance. If you like Les Mis, Oliver, or Phantom, you’ll love this.