September and October is my favorite time of year to attend anything and everything spooky and haunting. The production of Jekyll & Hyde at The Empress Theatre is the perfect event to add to your list of “Must Do” Halloween activities!
When I first saw the 2013 schedule for The Empress productions, I thought maybe Young Frankenstein would be better suited for the Halloween season, but now that I’ve seen both Young Frankenstein and Jekyll & Hyde, I can completely understand why they chose to do the productions at the designated times. Jekyll & Hyde is definitely the creepier and more haunting production of the two, and was exactly what we needed for this Halloween season!
For those of you that have heard of Jekyll & Hyde but have never read the book or storyline, it’s the haunting tale of Dr. Henry Jekyll and his inner struggle to separate the good from evil in each person. The production opens with the scene of Dr. Jekyll and his father, who is in a wheelchair and doesn’t have a fully functioning mind. Because Dr. Jekyll is turned down by the hospital board to perform experimental procedures, he decides to experiment on himself. The experiment doesn’t go as planned, and Dr. Jekyll’s “evil side” comes out as Mr. Hyde. The production is based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the director (Nancy Jensen) has even included the green door from the book.
“The world is full of contrasts: dark and light, sweet and sour, anger and happiness, good and bad. And the line between these is a very thin space,” said Nancy Jensen, director for Jekyll & Hyde at The Empress Theatre. “For this brief moment, let yourself imagine the good or evil in all of us, and whatever you see or feel – remember that what you see is often not what is real – because ‘life is a façade’ “.
We were mesmerized with watching Barney transform back and forth from Jekyll to Hyde. My kids mentioned that he seemed like a different person, and he even looked different from one minute to the next. His mannerisms also changed with the character transformation, which made him our favorite character to watch. During the scene in Dr. Jekyll’s lab with Dr. Jekyll and Emma Carew (played by Andrea K. Fife), you couldn’t help but feel the emotions while they sang “Once Upon A Dream”, “Streak of Madness” and “In His Eyes”. You could feel the inner torment Dr. Jekyll was feeling in his struggle with Mr. Hyde. “Lost In The Darkness” is also a performance full of emotion.
Not only do you see and feel Dr. Jekyll struggle with good and evil, but other characters as well. Lucy (played by Sarah Johnson) struggles with the person she is, and the person she could become. Emma Carew (played by Andrea K. Fife) struggles with the world’s view of Dr. Jekyll, and how she feels about Dr. Jekyll.
I kind of feel like a broken record with my reviews of The Empress, but as with other productions, the costumes and lighting / set design also stood out as exceptional. I enjoyed watching how the entire production came together to create a tragic scene set in the 1800s. It’s always fun to see how the entire room is painted to extend the story into the audience. Even the lobby and the hallway leading to your seats are decorated with added props to introduce the production of Jekyll & Hyde. I noticed with this production that there were a lot more lighting effects than usual, which was a welcome addition to the production. Lighting design was done by Curtis Bailey, and the costumes were put together by Melissa Buxton, Amy Burton and Jake Andersen.
While driving home after seeing this production, my husband commented that the singing in it was some of the best he has heard at The Empress. The voices of Eric Barney (Jekyll/Hyde), Andrea K. Fife (Emma Carew), Sarah Johnson (Lucy) and the other cast members were powerful and emotional.
Because of the PG sensitivity rating of Jekyll & Hyde, I would definitely leave young children under eight year of age at home. Because Mr. Hyde is the evil side of Dr. Jekyll, there are stabbings, stranglings and murders that take place. The loudness and creepiness might scare young ones. My kids are eight and ten, and they enjoyed it (even though my eight year old was a little bit scared).
This was one of our favorite productions at The Empress Theatre for the 2013 season, and is right up there with The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s the perfect production to attend on a chilly, Fall night in October!
I was provided with two complimentary tickets to attend this production and write my review. I was not compensated financially for my review, nor was I required or persuaded to write any specific type of review. The opinions and views expressed are all my own.
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