Jekyll and Hyde: Director discusses production...
The evocative tale of the battle between good and evil will be played out on stage in Bury St Edmunds at the end of this month.
Performed by the Irving Stage Company, Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical is based on the classic story about a brilliant doctor whose experiments with human personality create a murderous counterpart.
Convinced the cure for his father’s illness lies in the separation of man’s evil nature from his good, Dr Henry Jekyll unwittingly unleashes his own dark side, wreaking havoc on the streets of late 19th centre London as the savage, maniacal Edward Hyde.
The musical thriller is based on the 1890s classic written by Robert Louis Stevenson. Conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, the production features music by Wildhorn, a book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by Wildhorn, Bricusse and Cuden.
Brian Carmack, who is directing the musical, said: “In keeping with the original text, audiences are treated to an exhilarating exploration into the duality at the heart of man. Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical skilfully retains the sense of division present in the decadent 1890s when the class gulf between rich and poor was particularly acute and the facade of Victorian family values thinly veiled a dark underside of moral corruption.
“Stevenson himself, a man prone to socially deviant behaviour, was all too aware he was writing about duality on many different levels aside from the obvious personality split represented by Henry Jekyll and his doppelganger, Edward Hyde.
“In performance, Jekyll and Hyde is particularly successful in terms of recreating the sense of division at the heart of the central character while encapsulating the social hierarchy and decadence of the late 19th century. Audiences should expect to feel the horror of what a man can do when stripped of social conscience represented by Edward Hyde’s destruction of established members of society in moments of thrilling violence and dark, brooding sexuality.”
Brian thinks one of the main reasons Stevenson’'s classic has endured is that it touches a chord.
“The monstrous Hyde initially performs acts of retribution towards the morally hypocritical and ideologically narrow-minded establishment. In doing this, he represents the dark side within us all. Watching the animal trapped inside unleashed to carry out acts that, while horrific, carry with them a satisfying sense of justice, has thrilled audiences for over a century whether as readers, cinema-goers or, thanks to this version, musical theatregoers.”
Beautiful ballads carry the plot forward as Jekyll wrestles with his inner demons, including his romantic attachments to his fiancée and to tragic prostitute, Lucy. Meanwhile, the townspeople of nineteenth century London provide whole cast support with the scene-setting Facade and the nerve-jangling Murder! Murder!
“Given the everyman knowledge of the basic storyline of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, this musical has universal appeal,” said Brian. “Whether it is the ingredients of a classic musical the audience wants or the dramatic thrills of a story that fulfils much of the criteria expected of a good horror story, the show works on many levels.
“The musical also has contemporary relevance. In these days of political corruption and social disenchantment with aspects of the class system, Jekyll and Hyde also gives us the opportunity to see the establishment punished in the extreme. It is a musical designed to make us feel love and loathing of character in equal measure and, given the popularity of the anti-hero, whether it be Walter White in Breaking Bad or any given Byronic bad boy, Henry Jekyll’s demonic twin is as relevant today as he was when he was first conceived.”
The production features cast members from across the county and sets by American designer Kurt Wehner, who has travelled from San Antonio specifically for the task of designing and building the set.
Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical, is at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, from Tuesday April 29 – Saturday May 3.
Performances are at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinée at 2.30pm. Tickets, costing £8.50-£19, are available on 01284 769505 or at www.theatreroyal.org