BWW Review: JEKYLL AND HYDE at Slow Burn Theatre Company
In its nine years of operation, Slow Burn Theatre Company has never been afraid to mount dark and macabre musicals. Slow Burn's first season included the musicals Assassins and Bat Boy. Throughout the years, audiences were thrilled during productions of The Rocky Horror Show, Sweeney Todd, and Heathers. This past Saturday, Slow Burn opened the spine-chilling Frank Wildhorn musical Jekyll and Hyde at the Broward Center's Amaturo Theatre.
Jekyll and Hyde, which features music by Wildhorn and libretto by Leslie Bricusse, first opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre (now the Gerald Schoenfeld) in 1997. This production ran for over 1500 performances and was nominated for four Tony Awards.
Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll and Hyde addresses the duality between good and evil. Dr. Henry Jekyll is a scientist who creates a potion intended to separate good from evil. Dr. Jekyll becomes his own experimental subject by consuming this serum. The gentlemanlike Dr. Jekyll subsequently transforms into his violent alter-ego, Mr. Edward Hyde. When Hyde wreaks havoc throughout London by committing a series of murders, Jekyll must remove the homicidal Hyde from his body.
Slow Burn Theatre Company brings this cautionary tale of a musical to life with high-caliber performers, beautiful staging, and well-crafted production values.
Tony Edgerton takes on the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As an actor, Edgerton portrays two distinct characters using his voice and body. Edgerton's gait as Dr. Jekyll is straight but not stiff, emphasizing the word "gentle" in "gentleman". His Mr. Hyde, on the other hand, is seen as sexual and vengeful, moving at a slower pace and with a lowered gait. These choices are unique, and allow the audience to see Mr. Hyde as more than just a bloodthirsty murderer. While his tone is rather breathy at times, Edgerton's singing voice serves Wildhorn's demanding pop score well-especially during "This Is The Moment" and the show's eleven-o-clock number "The Confrontation."
Lindsey Corey plays Dr. Jekyll's supportive fiancée Emma Carew. As Emma, Corey showcases her classical soprano voice, with a smooth, resonant tone and consistent vibrato. Corey also plays Emma with a strong-woman personality-taking control when her beloved Dr. Jekyll goes mad and transforms into Mr. Hyde.
Carla Bordonada stands out in the role of Dr. Jekyll's mistress, Lucy Harris. From the minute Bordonada steps onstage during her number "Bring On The Men," her vibrant energy electrifies the room. During this number, Bordonada demonstrates her sultry yet powerful belt voice. However, during the power ballad "Someone Like You," near the end of Act One, Bordonada runs out of breath and starts to lose vocal stamina. Despite this, Bordonada picks up steam and delivers an emotionally-driven performance of "A New Life" near the end of Act Two.
Director Patrick Fitzwater stages Slow Burn's Jekyll and Hyde with a rather symmetrical aesthetic. He utilizes clean lines throughout most of the show's staging and choreography while keeping the action predominantly center stage. Even though the show runs two-and-a-half hours (75 minutes in Act One alone), Fitzwater's continuously-choreographed staging keeps audiences engaged throughout the night. Scene changes are well-coordinated, and members of the show's ensemble even dance with moving lampposts as part of the show's musical staging.
The only number that seems somewhat out of place in this production would be the Act Two opener, "Murder, Murder." The show's ensemble is dancing onstage while Mr. Hyde is on his killing spree. Ensemble members carry large umbrellas in a coordinated manner ("umbrella-ography") with sloppy execution. Hopefully, this scene will become more refined as the show's run continues.
Jekyll and Hyde's overall design concept is superbly thought-out and well-executed. Michael McClain's two-story set displays the gothic architecture of Victorian London, complete with brick, arched windows, and a scaled drop of the city skyline from the River Thames. Rick Peña's costumes are also period-accurate, with women in bustles and corsets and men in top hats and tails. Peña, along with lighting designer Thomas Shorrock, utilize a color scheme that heightens the mood of this dark show-with deep reds, blues, and purples. Shorrock also illuminates Mr. Hyde in an electric lime-colored wash, to signify his wickedness. These design choices come together in harmony to create a unified vision that enhances Fitzwater's staging.
Slow Burn's mounting of Jekyll and Hyde is a show you will not want to miss. This musical features breathtaking performances and visually impressive technical features. Jekyll and Hyde represents Slow Burn's continuous growth as a leading musical theatre company in South Florida. Since its first production of Bat Boy at West Boca High School, Slow Burn has developed a reputation for making even the darkest of musicals entertaining to audiences throughout the region.
Slow Burn Theatre Company presents
Jekyll and Hyde
At the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' Amaturo Theatre. 201 SW 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312.
Running Now until February 17, 2019.
Directed and Choreographed by Patrick Fitzwater. Musical Direction by Paul Tine.
Featuring: Tony Edgerton*, Lindsey Corey*, Carla Bordonada, Matthew Korinko, Michael Cartwright, Stephen Hedger, Mike Dinwiddie, Landon Summers, J.R. Coley, Sahid Pabon, Erin Pittleman, Michael Kreutz, Sean William Davis, Jinon Deeb, Robert Fritz, Sara Grant, Cameron Jordan, Isabella Lopez, Rick Peña, Courtney Poston.
*Members of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Scenic Design by Michael McClain, Costume Design by Rick Peña, Lighting Design by Thomas Shorrock, Sound Design by Rachelle Hough.
Run Time: Two and one-half hours, with a fifteen-minute intermission.
For tickets and more information, please go online to www.slowburntheatre.org or www.browardcenter.org. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Broward Center's AutoNation Box Office at (954) 462-0222.