Monday, November 05, 2007

(:)(:)(:)(:) for Jekyll and Hyde at Runaway Stage

Four snouts up for Jekyll and Hyde at Runaway Stage, now playing at Sierra 2 in Curtis Park through November 25th.

I struggled with the number of snouts on this one, so here's the caveat, I am giving this four snouts out of a possible five judging it by the standards of community musical theater not Broadway (or better yet, off Broadway) productions. Second caveat, I hate community musical theater (even though I like Broadway musicals). Interesting for me, since I grew up absolutely obsessed with performing in children's community musical theater.

But this is a quality production. I've never seen this musical staged before. The show itself is well-written, well-scored, very dark, with the music echoing the themes. The script takes liberties with the plot of the original Robert Louis Stevenson book (as recently recounted to me by my 12 year old, and vaguely remembered by me)--in this version, there's sort of a trumped up love story focus rather than a detective story focus. Also, Hyde's rapacious sexual appetite is developed here.

The cast was really excellent for this sort of show--the vocal leads of Tevye Ditter (Jekyll/Hyde) and his fiancee Norma-Jean Russell (Emma) made up for their wooden acting skills and (in Russell's case) dubious physical charms) with extraordinary voices. Russell's is out of this world Broadway recording quality--you can see why she was cast. The ensemble is filled with voices you can tell could play leading roles in other such productions.

But the standout performance in the show clearly comes from Amber Jean Moore (Lucy) who is the only performer who has it all: voice, acting, physicality and perfect casting. You absolutely believe her as the hooker with a heart of gold who is simultaneously repelled and in Hyde's sexual thrall.

So if you like this sort of thing, see the show. Warning: I thought the themes and simulated (clothes on) sex on stage/dancing were too mature for my 10 and 12 year olds. I'd recommend limiting this to a mature 15 year old or up.

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