Wednesday, October 6, 2010

As a child, Aisle Say admits to an addiction to Classics Illustrated comics. Composer Frank Wildhorn must have a similar predilection. He has written music for pop musicals entitled “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and most notably (and successfully) “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical”.
Adapted from a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, the musical speaks to the duality in us all; the fine line between good and evil.
Fair haired Dr. Jekyll seeks to discover in his laboratory the nature of the demons that possess man's soul and engender mental illness. The action is of the European Grand Guignol. While there is no blood on stage, Hyde's Mephostophelian side provides abundant mayhem. This show actually makes one think about one's moral center. Jekyll is warned by his friends about his experiments. He responds, “If all I thought about was the consequences, I would never accomplish anything.”
The three leads were outstanding; most assuredly Broadway quality talent. They are privileged to sing 4 certified show-stoppers: “This Is The Moment”, “Someone Like You”, “Once Upon A Dream” and “A New Life”.
In her opening duet with Jekyll (Patrick Ludt), Emma's (Elisa Matthews) soprano embraces the men in the audience as all men dream. I sat in my seat and sighed, 'bring it on, honey' and immediately coursed my program to see when she would be singing again (to me and me only of course). Hers is not only a crystal clear instument but sensuous and evocative.
Lucy (Trisha Jeffrey) debuted the role of the English prostitute at Media 8 years ago and went on to Broadway's “Rent”, among others. Reprising this character now only added to the maturity and naturalness with which she portrays a girl whose alternatives in life are slim. Jeffrey has the pipes to vibrate the theatre's chandelier, but the gift that makes her a great actress is the ability to sing the lyrics so the audience can understand them. She has astute breath control, adding emphasis to a word for dramatic effect.
Both Patrick Ludt's body and voice take a beating in this extremely challenging portrayal. Initially I thought his opening number should be more intense, but his almost sweet lyricism set the stage for the other malevolent side to come. In one of the final scenes, Ludt stands in front of a mirror and with each sentence changes from one character to the next. This is no small feat, for the voices of the two are markedly different; baritone tenor vs. guttural bass.
The ensemble cast was energetic and spirited. The costuming was uneven; mostly period appropriate but other times the garb seemed out of the '50's (the 1950's). Utterson's hat looked like something my father wore at DuPont Company. Choreography was under the direction of Alisa Stamps. The gesticulating fists of “Murder, Murder” seemed to me more reminiscent of the orphans of 'Hard Knock Life' from “Annie” than a clarion call of murder on the back streets of London.
The six member band under Music Director Tom Fosnocht provides more than enough sound to the spacious venue.
The town of Media has a wonderful turn of the century feel, replete with a trolley down Main Street. Many of the restaurants provide discounts for theatre goers.
Til October 31. 610.891.0100

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