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Review: ‘Jekyll & Hyde the Musical’ at the John W. Engeman Theater

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The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport’s current production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical is a nostalgic nod to its first season. Based on the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricuse and music by Frank Wildhorn, Jekyll & Hyde is directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato. One of the theater’s most requested productions, Jekyll & Hyde is sure to thrill audiences straight from the opening scene.

Nathaniel Hackmann as Henry Jekyll. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

Dr. Henry Jekyll is a man with a mission. He is determined to prove that the evil side of man’s nature can be removed and separated from the good. All he needs is a test subject for his serum, but the Board of Governors at the mental hospital refuse to give him one. Convinced he is in the right, and desperate to prove himself, Henry concludes his only choice is to experiment upon himself. The unexpected and dire consequences of this action put him at risk of losing everything he holds dear: his friendships, his fiancée Emma, even his own sanity. A riveting show, Jekyll & Hyde, is a melancholy and disturbing tale of good intentions gone awry.

This production is fabulous. Gorgeous and exquisite costumes by Kurt Alger swirl through the evocative choreography of Paul Stancato. Tantalizing effects of light and shadow play with emotion and heighten drama through the brilliance of Keith A. Truax. The ingenious set of sliding picture frames by Stephen Dobay works very well in varying aspects, and is especially apropos for the number “Façade” which underlays the entire show. The music which at times is soaring and stunning, and at others dissonant and spine-chilling, is superbly executed by Music Director Kristen Lee Rosenfeld and the entire band; with excellent sound design by Laura Shubert bolstering the production as a whole.

The cast of this show is perfection. Nathaniel Hackmann gives an incredible performance as Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. With clearly defined characteristics, mannerisms and tone, the seeming ease with which he portrays the duality of his character is stunning. His strong and clear voice rings with emotion and soars through the theater with every number, particularly in the iconic “This Is the Moment, and Hyde’s “Alive!”.

Liana Hunt (Emma Carew) and Nathaniel Hackmann (Henry Jekyll). Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

The two women in Jekyll’s life are his fiancée Emma, played by Liana Hunt, and girl-of-the-night Lucy, performed by Caitlyn Caughell. Hunt’s sweet and loyal Emma is convincing and charming, and with a lovely voice to match, a pleasure to listen to. Emma and Lucy’s duet of “In His Eyes” is a wonderful match-up of harmonization. Caughell plays the jaded Lucy faultlessly, with just the right amount of wariness and burgeoning hope. Her show stopping vocals are on outstanding display in “Someone Like You” and “A New Life”.

Both Tom Lucca, as Jekyll’s friend John, and Jeff Williams, as Emma’s father Sir Danvers did wonderfully. Their believable emotions are genuine assets to their characters. The entire ensemble deserves commendation on their skills. The singing, dancing and characterization are spot-on and strengthen the entire performance.

The heartrending, and chilling tale of one man’s fatal choices, Jekyll & Hyde is a hauntingly beautiful musical. The Engeman’s production should not be missed.

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Jekyll & Hyde the Musical plays through April 30, 2017 at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport – 250 Main Street, in Northport, NY. For tickets call the box office at (631) 261-2900, or purchase them online.

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