Sunday, July 1, 2012

'Jekyll and Hyde' - very creepy but good

I looked up this musical for the first time after hearing this gorgeous track from the show on Louise Dearman's solo album: Someone Like You (the version below is sung by the Original Broadway Cast member, Linda Eder) .

Jekyll and Hyde at The Union Theatre
Performance: Sunday 10th June 2012 at 18:00
Cast included: Tim Rogers (Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde), Madalena Alberto (Lucy Harris), Joanna Strand (Emma Carew), Mark Goldthorp (John Utterson), Mark Turnbull (Sir Danvers Carew)

The Union Theatre is a small off-West End venue near Southwark underground station. I remember when I went there for the first time (last year to see The Baker's Wife) and we got there very early, we couldn't figure out where exactly the theatre was as we did not suspect the back wall of the little cafe would open up to reveal a box office and a door to an auditorium.

Poster for this production
Jekyll and Hyde enjoyed a long Broadway run (1997-2001) but it has never been performed on West End stage. It has, however, toured the UK twice to date and there have been a large number of regional productions.
This off-West End production had been modernised and taken into the era of mobile phones and the NHS reverting from the setting of the novella on which the musical is based (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1886). Dr Henry Jekyll is determined to test the chemical formula his father has discovered which supposedly separates the good and evil in a human. He cannot get permission to use a volunteer for the experiment so he ends up taking the drug himself causing him to suffer from split personality: half of the time he is still the intelligent, chronically late doctor who wears glasses and is hoping to marry Emma, the daughter of Sir Danvers Crew, but uncontrollably, without warning he may transform into the bold and dangerous Edward Hyde.

This show actually scared me: I had to keep reminding myself it was just a musical and therefore no one would creep up on me from behind. The fact that the actors hovered around in the audience and the singing surrounded you completely did not help. In those numbers the sound was everywhere and you could feel the occasional gust of wind at the back of your neck when a cast member hurried past. I was trying to act normal despite: I was sitting on my hands to prevent them from grasping the arm of the person next to me. I don't mind scary though and the story was gripping: very much my kind of thing. The music was great too: I discovered several tracks which I enjoyed a lot.

Tim Rogers and Madalena Alberto (source)
Tim Rogers blew me away with his portrayal of Dr Jekyll on one hand and Mr Hyde on the other. The complete transformation that happened in him when going from one character to the other was astonishing even if the only physical difference between the two personalities was Mr Hyde's lacking a pair of spectacles. There was even an obvious difference in the voice quality: Dr Jekyll had a tender, slightly nervous way of singing which was a total contrast to Mr Hyde's powerful belt.

I loved Madalena Alberto's rendition of Someone Like You. Despite being such a slim, small woman, she has a strong, belty voice.

Moment which had the audience in hysterics: Mr Hyde murders an elderly lady and puts the body in one of those big, green rubbish bins which have two wheels. Now, putting a real person in one of those is quite funny in itself but it gets better. Two other characters went and threw stuff (one of them being a decent size bin bag) inside, on top of the lady not realising the supposed body in there. The garbage man then came, tilted the bin onto its wheels and pushed it off through the audience. Okay, me telling about it like this isn't that funny. I guess you did have to be there...

But yes, great show! I was very impressed by Jekyll and Hyde and I would definitely go and see another production of it if one cropped up.


  1. Thanks for the review! J&H is on the top of my must-see list, and I hope the upcoming Turku production will take everything out of the story and not concentrate too much on the romantic aspects. The musical usually has a bit too many love songs for my taste, but still it's IMO too underappreciated.

    Ahaha, I love Hyde. :D He must be fun to perform. In the Vienna production he dug out someone's eye and made the poor man eat it.

    Btw, which song Lucy performed in the night club, "Good and Evil" like on Bway or "Bring on the Men"?

    1. The musical has taken the liberty of adding a bit of romance into it. I suppose it kind of adds suspense too because you don't know whether the ladies are going to get killed or not.
      There are so many amazing things the director and the actor can do with the character of Mr Hyde. It's one of those parts which I can imagine differing greatly.
      And I seem to remember Lucy sang 'Bring on the Men' :)