JEKYLL & HYDE
I HAVE to admit that I came to this review slightly biased in that I have been a fan of the Bricusse score of this musical, with its Les Mis/Sweeney Todd-esque nods, for many a year: this production did not disappoint on any level. There were times when I forgot I was watching an amateur production such was the attention to detail, superb vocal talent, sleaze (I shall return to sleaze) and beautiful orchestrations.
Dawn Broomfield and John Sparrow have created a real character-driven and emotional piece of entertainment that both they and SMS should be very proud of. No concession has been given to the fact that this was the West End show and they skilfully brought a touch of magic that would, for much of the time, not look out of place anywhere in the West End. The orchestration and choreography were faultless.
The central dual role of Jekyll and Hyde has tested the sternest professional but John Earwood made it look effortless: his vocal range aptly suited the two voices needed to discern the creator and the creation. Anguish was written all his face as he faced John (Paul Rogers-excellent support throughout with very difficult music to put over) at the end as the two parties battled for possession of Jekyll's body and future. His scene with the sultry Lucy Harris (Caryn Morant in excellent form) on the sofa in Act 1 was particularly moving. This is the Moment was a gem of a song amongst many.
The two girls' (Lucy and Emma) vocal dexterity more than did justice to their songs: Caryn Morant's fingers along the bedstead, a very nice touch adding layers to character with a simple move. Kimberley Wren brought equal soft touches, particularly moving in her finale scenes as she cradles Jekyll. In some productions the character has been portrayed as a little shrill and cold as the opposite to Lucy, but Kimberley Wren brought a warmth and feeling to her performances, particularly with the song Once Upon A Dream, that I had not seen before. Their duet was quite lovely in its simplicity but charged with emotion.
Amateurs do not usually portray sleaze and intimacy very well but Dawn's thoughtful placement and realism was so well done, the chorus matching the principals in swift and confident execution of moves. There was no hint of embarrassment or being uncomfortable and this evocation of the dark side of England was stridently portrayed: it was clear they were all having a very good time! The intimacy of Hyde and Lucy also being very apparent in the song "sympathy tenderness" moments. It is appreciated the hard work by all concerned that must have been put in to make these difficult sexually charged and adult themed scenes so alive and natural.
The movements to dispose of the bodies of those slain by Hyde and the appearance of Hyde out of the dark were brilliantly executed: I did not see the removal of the actors even from my seat in the circle and this helped the production remain tight and focused.
The secondary characters have particular strengths: Spider's (a real menacing Will Pickering) look to the audience was very chilling and his whole demeanour sparked nastiness. Haughty conceit was ably portrayed by Glenda Thomas, Mark Barton-Leigh, Dave Smith, Steve Young, David Humphries and Adrian Jones bringing a sterling performance to Sir Danvers as he sees the man his daughter wants to marry become someone/thing else. Admirable support in other roles came from Stu Collins, David Harris and Cari Laythorpe, proving not a weak link in this most high standard of productions.
I liked the link the style of the programme bore to what we had just seen and it is so good to see amateur theatre attaining such a high standard.
It is a must see.
27th March 2013, Scene One
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