I am so over Spiderman. Brilliant scientist attempting a breakthrough for good is shunned by the establishment and has to use himself as a test subject but loses control of the experiment and an alter ego reveals itself to be a monster. Is this the story of Spiderman villian Norman Osborne and The Green Goblin? Yes. But way earlier thanks to a book by Robert Louis Stevenson, this is the story of Jekyll and Hyde the Musical, brilliantly performed by Milburn Stone Theatre.
As an observer at a late rehearsal I was surprised by how compelling this performance is, and how drawn in I was.
Adam Wahlberg is shocking in the title role. As Dr. Jekyll he for some reason calls to mind a mild-mannered Thomas Jefferson. Upon transforming to Hyde it is difficult to believe that it is still the same actor. This is additionally startling because the transformation merely involves releasing the ponytail on Wahlberg’s wig and donning a hat, coat and some sunglasses. One witness said that this is how Ozzie Osbourne would look if portrayed by Johnny Depp. This is a bad-looking dude.
Two women provide a contrasting commentary on Jekyll’s life. Fiancee Emma, played by Erika Bankerd, is all goodness and light. She will stand by her man through thick and thin, even defying her moneyed background to do so. Brothel girl Lucy, played by Shereen Ahmed, is perilously drawn to Hyde while at the same time finding tender solace in Jekyll. As an aside in the original Batman series, didn’t you find it unbelievable that nobody could tell that Adam West’s Bruce Wayne and Batman were the same guy? This is not like that. I don’t blame Lucy at all. Both Emma and Lucy are very attractive women costumed lavishly and both parts are sung beautifully. You will find yourself in the same conundrum as Jekyll/Hyde, choosing. The bad girl or the good? Betty or Veronica? Ginger or Maryann? Emma or Lucy?
If you happen to be seated at one of the premium-priced cocktail tables at the front of the stage, lucky you. You are practically in the show. The brothel girls’ dance number has the scantily clad performers at one point marching right up and looking you in the eye. If you happen to be seated in the traditional seating, lucky you. The large production numbers and the many interactions (and untimely deaths) occurring all over the stage are better appreciated from a distance where everything can be viewed at once.
This is a terrific stage setting. Jekyll’s laboratory has boiling beakers, piles of reference books, and evil genius mood lighting. Multiple levels, nooks and crannies, and secret doors teleport this talented cast to different venues effortlessly with virtually no interruption to the proceedings.
One quibble is with the apothecary door on the right. Dr. Jekyll picks up chemicals from the proprietor there. The door has many other uses throughout the show, including brothel entrance. Perhaps a small sign on the door would have made me happier. I mean, how does anyone in town find this druggist so he can stay in business? This is admittedly a small detail but perhaps this speaks to the overall professionalism of this S. Lee Lewis show, and how incredibly detailed it is.
Why should you see this show? Why do we see theatre in general? To be entertained, certainly. But also to shown characters who surprise us by speaking to the parts of us we don’t acknowledge. Dr. Jekyll believed that it was possible to separate the evil from the good in the human psyche. He was asked what would become of the evil. What, indeed?
A wonderful review and brilliant photo collection appeared earlier in CecilScene.com CLICK HERE
Milburn Stone Theatre at Cecil College, June 27, 28, 29 Traditional seating admission: $18
Box Office (410) 287-1037