Arts musical review

The duel between good and evil

The 32nd production of Next Act seemlessly incorporates orginal production decisions

Jekyll & Hyde
Apr. 6–8
Presented by Next Act
Directed by Kristina Kim ’17 and Emma Chant ’17
Produced by Katherine Chew ’19

Jekyll & Hyde explores the blurred line between good and evil by exposing the inner demons of a well-intentioned man. Dr. Henry Jekyll (Keertan Kini ’17), seeking a cure for his father’s ailing mental health, is denied a human test subject for his elixir, which he claims will separate the good and evil entities in man. Deciding to test the potion on himself, he unleashes a monster from within, Mr. Edward Hyde (David Favela ’18), the embodiment of Jekyll’s suppressed malice. Jekyll ultimately ends his own life to cease Hyde’s murderous rampage.

The musical begins by drawing a distinct line between good and evil that slowly dissolves as Hyde gains increasing control over Jekyll. While these two characters are actually one and the same, Director Kristina Kim ’17 opens the 32nd production of Next Act by introducing a unique casting choice that deviates from the traditional production: Jekyll and his evil alter-ego, Hyde, two distinct entities within one body, are cast as two individuals rather than one. A full-length mirror serves as the gateway between the contrasting personalities, successfully incorporating this casting choice, especially for those unfamiliar with the musical.

Similarities between Jekyll and Hyde are drawn in their outfits, designed by Costume Director, Caralyn Cutlip ’18. Their opposing mannerisms, however, accentuate the distinction between good and evil. Favela’s mannerisms are particularly enthralling; he continuously clenches his fists in anger and deviously smiles, adding touches of maniacal laughter into Hyde’s dialogue. The choreography for the song “Confrontation,” in which Hyde attempts to overpower Jekyll, is one of the production’s most captivating scenes, validating the director’s choice to cast Jekyll and Hyde as two actors. This scene, which must have been challenging to stage as it is traditionally sung by one man, has unique choreography that perfectly exhibits the dichotomy between Jekyll and Hyde. Once Hyde steps through the mirror to confront Jekyll, a battle ensues between the two for control of his body. The two characters’ movements are carefully timed to give the illusion of a connection between them, as though Jekyll is a marionette under Hyde’s control.

Another deviation from the traditional musical is an addition to Hyde’s character. Hyde’s villainous persona is augmented by a suite of “Hyde’s Shadows” or “Shadow Killers,” as referred to in the playbill. These members of the ensemble portray the manifestation of Hyde’s evil, acting as an extension of Hyde while he commits murders. With ripped, black garments and gaunt, skeletal-looking makeup, these characters overwhelm the stage and even step into the audience while Hyde is present. The choreography for these characters, in addition to that of the other ensembles, is outstanding.

The two female leads, Emma (Jessica Yu ’19) and Lucy (Zoe Sheinkopf ’17), are character foils whose voices are as contrasting as their outfits and personalities. Jessica’s delicate voice compliments the innocent and sweet character who stays faithful to Jekyll. Zoe’s voice, on the other hand, is strong and commanding, well-suited for her role as a prostitute and Hyde’s love interest. Juxtaposed in the song “In His Eyes,” the actresses give convincing and touching performances.

Jekyll & Hyde is exceptional in its attention to detail, and the modifications to the traditional musical enhance the performance. The talented cast and crew deliver in providing a sensational and emotional retelling of this classic tale.