Sunday, July 14

Jekyll and Hyde – Hyde Festival Theatre

Hyde Festival Theatre proved to be the ideal location for Hyde Musical Society’s production of Jekyll and Hyde the Musical. Not only are there the obvious parallels with the name of the theatre but this historic building, which dates back to the early 1900’s, is the perfect setting for this atmospheric story which begins in 1888. With gas fixtures still in place from the original gas lighting and a beautiful ornate original balcony, I cannot praise this gem of a theatre enough. On arrival, the outside was appropriately illuminated red and white, this attention to detail extended throughout the theatre and to the upstairs bar which was beautifully decorated with creative centrepieces matched to the show.

Tom Williams (in his first leading role with the Society) presented the audience with a fresh-faced, respectable, impeccably dressed, emotional but suitably reserved initial portrayal of Dr Jekyll. Would Williams, as a young, new talent, be able to convey the evil, violent and cruel alter ego of Mr Hyde? Most certainly, yes! Most notably, in the much anticipated ‘Confrontation’ number, which was truly spectacular! All credit to Williams for convincingly presenting the two opposing characters in this physically and vocally demanding song. The lighting (by Daniel Oliver-Grant) was superb throughout the show but particularly used to great effect in this key, emotionally charged scene. Although Williams’ physical appearance did not dramatically differ as Jekyll transformed to Hyde, Williams’ eyes, facial expressions, change in volume, effective animalistic sounds and physical posture were more than enough to convince us that Mr Hyde was more than just a demon within.

Francesca Groves (Emma) and Kayleigh Ann Strong (Lucy) were perfectly cast as the contrasting characters intertwined in the life of Henry Jekyll. ‘In His Eyes’ was an audible treat. Again, the lighting and staging were excellent in this number as the social standing and the opposing nature of the two individuals was clearly distinguished, simply stunning.  ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘A New Life’ were highlights, Strong delivered a convincing and powerful performance throughout.

I was impressed by the Fosse-inspired choreography by Simon Fitzpatrick in ‘Bring on the Men’, this was well suited to the space and matched the intent of this scene. The movement in ‘Murder, Murder’ proved to be an engaging start to Act 2. A creative set, designed by Gareth Cox, meant that the talented cast could make good use of the different levels, including the steps, as the scenes changed and developed, creating an atmospheric portrayal of Victorian London. Hats off to Gareth Cox and Team for their scene changes – some of the quietest I’ve encountered! The lighting, staging and special effect (I won’t spoil it by stating which one!) combined to make each murder truly terrifying, a key part of the show highlighting Hyde’s control over Jekyll. With regards to the sound, I found it at a good level overall, however, on occasions the music started and ended abruptly and could have been improved by fading in and out.

Jeremy Sleith has done an excellent job as Musical Director, the company harmonies in ‘Façade’ and ‘Murder, Murder’ were particularly pleasing.

Richard Parker (Director) has worked with a strong, talented cast to produce a fantastic musical. Hyde Musical Society are clearly a strong team, presenting high quality amateur theatre. This show deserves to be seen, I urge people to see this incredible show before it finishes. You will be in for a truly wonderful night at the theatre.

Playing until 23rd March, https://www.hydefestivaltheatre.co.uk/

Reviewer: Emma Wild

Reviewed: 20th March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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