Dreamer, wordsmith, mum of two - I enjoy the outdoors, good food and good company. Subscribe to my articles to follow what I've been up to, and like those articles you want to see more of so I can tailor what I write to my audience.
Jordan Berry, Isaac Downey (Utterson)and Trent Gardiner (Dr Jekyll) - Photo: Jim Crew
I've been a big fan of musicals since I was a teenager. I've seen Les Miserables, Phantom of Opera, Chicago, We Will Rock You, Chess ... the list goes on, due to my unquenchable thirst for the emotional high that hits you in the chest when a production is done really well, which has led me to see several of these shows multiple times and in multiple cities. Yes, the big shows on Broadway and Covent Gardens are amazing. But sometimes, the innovation and energy that shine through your local productions are the ones which give you the greatest buzz.
Until today I hadn't encountered Jekyll and Hyde, though I've read plenty of Robert Louis Stevenson, so this seemed like a fusion worth exploring.
A tale about good and evil, the masks we all wear, and the dangers that transpire when these are dropped.
It did not disappoint, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well this local production managed to translate what is, quite frankly, a very ambitious and complex show, into a mesmerising and enchanting narrative that totally sucked the audience into raptly following along this disturbing tale, hanging onto every lyric with bated breath.
The ensemble was a delight. As my plus one whispered to me in baffled surprise during the intermission, every one of these performers were really good. No, really, she said, they are all excellent. And she should know, she's performed in local school musicals (we're talking the top private schools here, so the ones with big budgets and ambitions) her entire childhood.
Trent Gardiner as Dr Jekyll and Joseph Raso as Mr Hyde. Photo: Jim Crew
Trent Gardiner was convincing as the desperate Dr Henry Jekyll, a good man so consumed by his passion for his work that he was blinded to the dangers of where his experimentation would lead him. The way he writhed and screamed in pain when he transformed into Mr Hyde was terrifying. His passionate soliloquies were heartfelt and moving.
Joseph Raso, playing his alter ego, Edward Hyde, brought a raw energy and force to his character, which looked exhausting but also fun - the way he contorted his face into a beastly mask must have taken a huge level of control and persistence. A lot of his songs were sung in an aggressive snarl in keeping with Mr Hyde's character, but when he hit the sonorous climax in his songs, it became very clear what a superb instrument this man has - an instrument that will have no problem filling the Sydney Opera House. Definitely, a rising star to watch.
Olivia Oxley, whose voice is just sublime with tones that send shivers down your spine, was a vision as Dr Jekyll's fiance. She has the poise, grace and beautiful timbre to her voice that made her utterly believable as the patient, beautiful, unattainable opposite to Mr Hyde.
And then there is Samantha Wills starring as Lucy Harris. This was a performance worth seeing, regardless of the multiple other highlights of the show.
I loved her. She nailed the saucy, sexy, vulnerable Lucy Harris, and brought a desperate and frustrated energy to her songs which brought the house down.
Both Isaac Downey and Doug Rumble as Utterson and Sir Danvers Carew were fantastic supporting characters, bringing a believable empathic gravitas to the show.
I could go on calling out other performers from the show, but that might get old.
The costumes were great, and the props were convincing and well handled throughout the show. The women playing ladies of the upper class were amply bedecked in sparkling jewels, which I admired greatly.
Samantha Wills as Lucy Harris and Joseph Raso as Mr Hyde. Photo: Jim Crew
Steve Dula, who was also the musical director, did an excellent job on the keyboard - as far as I could tell as a pianist myself, this seemed like a very dense musical score - to provide the musical backdrop to a show like this is very labour intensive and usually gets little recognition, because it is done to highlight the stars on the stage itself. So excellent work - I saw and appreciated what you were doing.
Needless to say, this was an excellent production, well worth seeing. Lochie Beh, the director, ought to be very proud. He has created a cracker of a production here, which anybody would be privileged to see.
So if, like me, you have been suffering a live musical drought since before COVID -19 broke out, now is the time to dive back into this beautiful world, and break that drought. You won't go wrong with this one.