BWW Reviews: JEKYLL AND HYDE, New Wimbledon Theatre, March 1 2011
Perhaps Marti Pellow was destined to play the eponymous leads in Jekyll and Hyde, looking rather like his fellow Scot Robert Louis Stevenson who invented the unforgettable tale, and having lived a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde existence himself as boy band idol turned tabloid fodder after too many chemical cocktails, turned star of musical theatre. After Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse wrought almost as thoroughgoing a transformation on the tale as Doctor Jekyll did to himself, this version provides plenty of setpiece songs, mercifully few special effects and costume changes and yet more opportunities to hear that stage Cockney accent that owes rather more to Dick Van Dyke than to the East End of London.
Dr Jekyll's proposal to separate, isolate and destroy the evil inside every human being through the the imbibing of a steaming, gaudily coloured potion and thus improving the world like good Victorians do, is rejected by his hospital's ethics committee - so he sups the dangerous draft himself. Having done so, Jekyll's six weeks engagement to Emma is punctuated by Mr Hyde slowly gaining the upper hand over the worthy doctor and spending his time bumping off the committee, who may not be nice people, but they were not wrong in trying to block this experiment. Hyde also conducts a tempestuous affair with showgirl Lucy, the tart-with-a-heart counterpart of Jekyll's fiance's totty-with-a-heart. It all ends in... well, I shan't say, but this is not a show that deals in suspense, nor twists in the tail.
Sets, costumes and performances are what you would expect of a Bill Kenwright production, with everything just right and everyone very professional. As Emma, Sarah Earnshaw sings beautifully, but the part is rather thin, so she gets little chance to do much beyond feisty and devoted. Lucy is a much bigger role and Sabrina Carter makes the most of it, with a couple of showstoppers belted out and a subtlety in her acting that reveals to the audience why even so bright and resourceful a girl as Lucy was stuck fast on the bottom rung of a society run by hypocrites. Marti Pellow sings well and is devilishly charismatic as Hyde, if rather, er... wet as the idealistic Jekyll - and he is very much a star of course!
On the final curtain, the audience's applause and shouts showed their appreciation of a job well done and, at last, having spent the preceding two hours or so wishing they were lucky enough to get a flash of the famous Pellow smile, they got one.