Venue: Central Hall
Running until: 12 February
Directed by: Katherine Timms
Central Hall Musical Society’s latest venture Jekyll and Hyde tells the well known story of Henry Jekyll whose aspirations as a doctor inspire him to try a formula on himself to disastrous ends.
In the title role, as Henry Jekyll and his alter ego Edward Hyde, was Alistair Phillips, whose vocals were excellent in both timbre and range, and overall he managed to effectively switch between the two sides of the character. This was best illustrated in the song Confrontation, a fast paced and intricate duet with himself. Sadly, Phillips’ obvious hard work on this song was not mirrored in the lighting, which, after missing two changes, seemed to utterly give up on the case.
The performance of the night, however, came from Stratton and Czornyj in their duet In His Eyes which was heartbreaking, pitch perfect, and truly a joy to watch. Lucy, played by Florence Stratton, shone. In each scene eyes were automatically drawn to her – and not just because of her lacy black stockings. Her astonishing and exciting voice was strong given that she had possibly the most challenging part to sing. She perfectly portrayed both the raunchy prostitute and helpless girl trying to escape simultaneously. Injecting much needed sexiness into many scenes, her vitality and appeal helped lift them out as stand-out. Anna Czornyj played Emma, the understanding and sweet wife to be, which could have been seen as the ‘less exciting female role’, but with beautiful singing, and great control, she played the part excellently.
One of the highlights of the production was the orchestra, which was fantastically directed by James Oliver, and the musicians were steadfast in their performance of the songs.
As I have previously mentioned, the tech was somewhat shoddy in parts, and a professional show cannot function successfully unless all the elements are working effectively. Issues with the mics also were clear, and feedback and levels did need adjustment at times.
In general the cast were excellent, and any problems with the show are not to their detriment, and it was more the overall direction of the piece that needed work. At times unnecessary additions to the stage were made, for example during Lucy’s song Someone Like You. In what could have been a very moving and touching moment about Lucy on her own, the director felt it necessary to include couples wandering around the stage. This was very much detracted from the emotion of the piece, which felt like it would have been much stronger on an empty stage.
Unfortunately the production team had a tendency to feel that there always has to be another layer to the action. However, a dance corps is often not the answer. At some points sharper timing with regards to choreography would have been appreciated, though on the whole the performance was solid. Costume and set design tied the piece together effectively, and gave it a unified look on stage. Keeping to a colour scheme of red, white and black, also made the piece look more professional.
Jekyll and Hyde is a challenging and perhaps unconventional choice for Central Hall Musical Society, and from last night’s performance, it is obvious that the talent for it is there – even if other aspects are not. The musical performances are wonderful, and I recommend catching this in order to hear vocal performances that would sit well on any west end stage.