Reviewed by Pablo Barton
Jekyll & Hyde was last performed in Adelaide over ten years ago and makes a welcome return in this thrilling production by Marie Clark Musical Theatre. This musical adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella by Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn follows the story of Doctor Henry Jekyll as he is consumed by his work, and eventually by his darker side. Trying to hold him back from the edge and suffering in their own ways are his fiancé Emma Carew and his loyal friend Gabriel John Utterson. Swept up in the events of the story is Lucy Harris, a prostitute with whom Jekyll forms an unlikely bond.
Under the direction of Ben Todd, the chemistry between the leads is palpable. The story is effectively told and the cast is confident and well-rehearsed. Unfortunately, a consistent tone is not always struck, with the occasional humorous moment undercutting the drama. Furthermore, there are times in each of the main character’s solo numbers that their performances are hampered by busywork with props or by singing upstage during important moments.
The choreography by Rebekah Stonelake is confidently delivered by the cast, and although at times it lacks stylistic consistency, the stage is filled with exciting movement that expresses the unfolding drama. The use of the staircase leading into one side of the stage is an effective design choice, giving many areas a definite sense of place. It is a pity that the mirror in Dr Jekyll’s laboratory, which is prominently referred to in the text, is just a small detail at the back of the stage.
The dual role of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one of the most vocally demanding in the repertoire, but David MacGilivray is more than up to the challenge. He creates a sympathetic but driven Jekyll, and as Mr Hyde his vocal and physical transformation is staggering. As Jekyll’s fiancé Emma Carew, Ashley Muldrew’s beautifully pure singing contrasts wonderfully with the other singers. She plays the quiet strength of the character with warmth. As Lucy Harris, Sarah Wildy’s soaring voice fills the theatre. A standout moment is Muldrew and Wildy’s performance of the duet between Lucy and Emma, ‘In His Eyes’, as is the duet between Hyde and Lucy ‘A Dangerous Game’, which must be one of the most electrifying moments ever on the stage of the Arts Theatre.
Fine performances are given by the supporting actors, especially Brendan Clare as Jekyll’s friend Utterson, Max Kavanagh as Emma’s worried father Sir Danvers Carew, and Matthew Redmond as the chillingly evil pimp Spider. Special mention must be made of the ensemble, who each bring passion and distinctiveness to their performances. Todd and Stonelake must be commended for finding moments for each ensemble member to be highlighted. Under the musical direction of Ben Stefanoff, the ensemble sings with accuracy, clear diction and a warm tone, and the orchestra are strong and supportive.
Marie Clark Musical Theatre’s Jekyll & Hyde is a great night of theatre. The cast, crew and creative team should all be proud of their achievement. As I left the theatre, I was glad I wasn’t crossing Hyde Park to get to my car.
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – Performed by: David MacGilivray