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Murder has never been so musical

Jekyll and Hyde’ was dark, dirty and just a lot dangerous. Set in the 1800s, the atmosphere of this Gothic musical was set from the minute you entered into the theatre, leaving audience members transfixed and perhaps just a little anxious about what is to come.

‘Jekyll and Hyde’ tells the infamous story of a struggling scientist, Dr. Henry Jekyll’s plight with good versus evil. Featuring everything from love, loss, and laughter, the show does have it all. Based on the gothic novella ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, the musical features music by Frank Wildhorn and book & lyrics by Leslie Bricusse – a team full of talent, yet continually unable to write a long-lasting hit.

Act One details Dr Jekyll’s determination to discover what makes a man ‘good’ and a man ‘evil’. Jekyll meets barriers wherever he goes, but is supported by his loving fiancé, Emma Carew, her father and trusted friend John Utterson Esq. Without the support of the hospital board, Jekyll is more determined than ever and finds himself in the thick of the worst of London, at the ‘Red Rat’, a seedy pub on the wrong side of town. Here, he meets the exotic and eccentric lady of the night, Lucy Harris. This chance encounter encourages Dr Jekyll to take a huge risk and take his experiments in a new direction, with himself as the main testing specimen. Act Two takes audiences on a grim journey through the discovery of murderous, dangerous and unpredictable Edward Hyde, within Dr Jekyll himself.

Michael Mills (Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde) was exceptional, bringing a commanding and determined presence to Jekyll and delivered a ripper of a performance as Hyde. His most notable moment being delivered during Act Two’s song, ‘The Confrontation’, where Mills flawlessly transitioned between the two ‘sides’ of his personality, demonstrating the internal struggle effortlessly. Throughout the show, the duality of good and evil were implemented through various lighting and staging opportunities, but it was within this song that the marriage of performer and staging was encapsulated. Mills was accompanied by a dual spotlight, use of red versus purple lighting and uses his entire body (and a whole lot of hair!) to bring the commanding and frightening juxtaposition between Jekyll and Hyde’s inner turmoil to life. 

Accompanying Mills in equally strong stand-out performances were Ebony Hamacek and Kelly Cooper (Lucy Harris and Emma Carew respectively). During one of the more risqué numbers, ‘Bring On The Men’, Hamacek’s performance was raunchy and rotten, her ‘Red Rat’ entertainment easily gave Le Moulin Rouge a run for its money. Hamacek was effortless as Hyde’s unexpected lover. Similarly, Cooper’s portrayal of Emma Carew was a sweet and demure delight. In particular, Cooper and Mills demonstrated a convincing love and connection within their performance of ‘Take Me As I Am’ during Act One.

The entire show featured an extremely well-cast variety of performers, all perfect for their roles. Notably, Simon Stone (Sir Danvers Carew) and Kyle Fenwick (Simon Stride) contributed continued smooth and polished vocals and honest, sincere acting. Other notable performances came from the St. Judes’ Members of the Board, particularly, Dom Bradley (Sir Archibald Proops/Spider) who was a dual delight in both of his wildly opposing roles. The ensemble should also be congratulated for their impressive ability to switch between their many and varied characters. Full company numbers may have been limited in number, but when the entire company took to the stage, their performances were stunning.

Choreography by Lauren Conway was simply perfect. Dance numbers were all well suited to the styles of each song and the cast was faultless in their execution. Standout numbers were the ladies in ‘Bring On The Men’ and the entire company in ‘Murder, Murder’. Trenton Dunstan’s musical direction was both enticing and appealing. The orchestra was of a professional standard and was impressive, providing a full and beautiful sound within the Tin Shed. Across the entire show, Elodie Boal’s direction was obvious and deliberate. Her cast were well chosen and impressively characterised. The set and costuming (Justin Tubb-Hearne) were both era appropriate and excellently articulated the elements of all characters, with set and costume changes flawlessly employed by all of the cast and crew.

There were some minor mic issues throughout the show. However, the cast didn’t flinch during any feedback problems and should be congratulated for this. Sound was a slight problem throughout though with some cast members’ moments mumbled or unheard, leaving a few things missing in terms of plot or key points.

Overall, Jekyll and Hyde is a surprisingly perfect show for The Tin Shed stage. With industrial staging, every inch of the space was continually used and was appropriately employed by all. The intimate nature of the space allowed audience members a unique, personal and frank exposure to the musical’s key themes.

All photography by CF Photography.