Intoxicating. Bewitching. Astounding!
It's actually hard to believe that in portraying the duality of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on the Hayes Theatre stage, Brendan Maclean is making his first appearance in a musical.
Although most of his lead may be considered musical, beyond his brilliant vocals, sensational singer Maclean gives us totally believable characters. His demeanour, facial grimace, hand gestures, stances and stoops go beyond his subtle costume changes to leave us never in doubt which side of light or dark he is portraying.
Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, the gripping tale of a brilliant questioning mind gone horrifically wrong, is loosely based on the 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. So you already know the story! You do! Good vs evil. The duality within each of us, and grappling with that battle within. Originally conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, it features music by Frank Wildhorn, a book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by all three.
As a musical, here is a show you can purely enjoy for the enormous entertainment value it dishes up from go to whoa (woe), or dig a little deeper into the philosophical questions of light and dark, good vs evil, social heirarchy and the hypocrisy it cradles. They are gently yet beautifully embroidered into the story and the lyrics if you open your mind and your heart.
Directed by Hayden Tee, this production gets everything right, with the show perfected for the Bohemian intimacy of the Potts Point venue and stage. Tee, with his brilliant cast and crew deliver all these layers, postulating parallels of post pandemic trauma and mental health crises through the metaphor of the Jekyll and Hyde setting, an ANZAC military hospital where Australian and New Zealand indigenous peoples were institutionalised post World War Two.
Musically Jekyll & Hyde gifts us intricacy and diversity, soulful enchantment and eerie bewitchment, with challenging melodies and harmonies, and even passages acapella. The concept of duality is reinforced through the instrumental, with two celli, one flanking each side of the stage. And the duality extends to the love interests of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, portrayed by Brady Peeti (Lucy) and Georgina Hopson (Emma).
Peeti brings a most outstanding performance to her difficult role. Although vocally powerful, she is filled to the brim with contrasts and subtleties, delights when erotically tantalizing, swims in emotions, and invokes empathy when she is broken.
Hopson suitably embraces the loving fiancee. Vocally and physically confident, she captures everything that the era demands, and yet we can also see the assertive independence that is trying to emerge from the conventional expectations.
Dark contrasting blonde, their duet is a demonstration of the same hope and intention, love the same yet different, day and night, conventional and the fringes.
Our narrator and Jekyll's best friend Utterson is played with precision by Madeleine Jones in the traditionally male role, as she lends her own extra dimension.
“When it came to the role of John Utterson, Madeleine Jones was the best person who auditioned and from her audition it became evident that the agency of shutting down male violence needed to be given to a woman” commenting on this world-premiere casting, director Hayden Tee said, “I’m very pleased composer Frank Wildhorn gave us his blessing and thrilled Madeleine said yes.”
Others all superbly cast, juggle multiple roles, changes of accents, changes of paraphenalia, changes of props as the characters fluidly move across the stage and through the story.
The creative team includes choreographer Siobhan Ginty, music supervisor Nigel Ubrihien and musical directors Chris King and Steven Kramer.
Stunning original choreography is executed by all with sharp military exactness, and attention grabbing excitment.
The set designed by Melanie Liertz grabs us from the moment we take our seat, hospital colours, hospital windows, hospital beds, laboratory bottles. Costumes by Mason Browne are breathtakingly simple and clean, and extend the hospital feels through pale mint green clothing, all white shoes. Lighting (and sometimes lack of) designed by Anthony Pearson magnifies all of the sweet moments and barbed edges.
All this creates such a fantastic night of entertainment, I'd give this more than 5 ***** if that were possible. Maxed like the opening night. And I feel by the rousing applause that was peppered right throughout the show, that the rest of the audience agreed.
I truly love the intimacy of the specialist Hayes Theatre and its 111 seats, and the programming committee do and incredible job of selecting the exclusively musical theatre shows. I've loved every performance I've ever seen here and it's no wonder the seasons sell out so quickly. Jekyll & Hyde is part of Hayes' Artist Led Program which allows artists to put forward their own suggestions for productions. Get yourself along to this Australian professional production premiere of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical if you can get in quick, and also keep an eye out for the upcoming Hayes Theatre Co. Godspell from 14 October.