Wolf Pack Theatre Company gives audiences a reason to explore the darker depths of the human mind with season-opener Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical. With book and lyrics by Leslie Briscusse and music by Frank Wildhorn, this production soars under the direction of Wolf Pack’s William Leary by showcasing dazzling leads and a strong ensemble.
The plot of this Jekyll & Hyde follows much of the original penned by Robert Louis Stevenson. Dr. Henry Jekyll is an intrepid explorer of the human mind, but his latest experiments in concocting a potion to eliminate everything that is evil and wrong in the human psyche have raised more than a few eyebrows. As in the original, Jekyll decides to test the potion on himself due to the lack of test subjects. This experiment draws out his horrifying alter ego known as Edward Hyde. Much of the suspense of the musical revolves around Jekyll’s inability to reconcile his day-to-day persona with this shadow self.
Christopher Overly plays the two-faced Dr. Jekyll with enthusiasm. While he excels at the musical numbers—I particularly enjoyed his take on the well-loved “This is the Moment”—his real acting talent is displayed in believably transitioning between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hunched over and growling, he inhabits the sinister Hyde—very much a different man from the upright and articulate Jekyll. During “Confrontation”, Overly shows great skill in playing both of these parts in turn. Much of the success of this musical is wrapped up in an actor’s ability to physically show the difference between Jekyll and Hyde. Happily, Overly delivers.
Emma Carew, played here by Alexa Haines, is Dr. Jekyll’s fiancee who doesn’t quite know what she is signing up for. Haines has a strong and clear voice which shines through particularly well during “Take Me As I Am.” Haines brings Emma to life, humanizing her precarious situation. Emma is no wilting flower and Haines manages to strike a balance between her strength and her understandable hesitancy, making the role a highlight of this production.
Lucy Harris, a down-and-out sex worker who has the misfortune of crossing paths with Dr. Jekyll, is played by Lexi Haddad. Haddad provides a sultry contrast to Haines’ airy soprano. Together, they make “In His Eyes” on of the best numbers in this production. Haddad, on her own, transforms the heartbreaking Lucy into the underdog that you just can’t help rooting for. This is most apparent in her incredible rendition of “Someone Like You”—easily the strongest song from this musical and a show-stopper in the Wolf Pack production due to Haddad’s warm vocals.
The leads are strong and are backed by a powerful ensemble. “Facade” is an absolute delight with the cast Wolf Pack has assembled. There are several scene transitions which require the cast to play very different types of characters. From a brothel to an upscale London neighborhood, each ensemble member helps elevate the scenes throughout.
Lighting design plays a special role in this musical by helping to show when Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Sound and Lighting Designer Stephen Beitzell did a fantastic job of aiding these transitions. Likewise, Choreographer Katy Chmura utilizes the space to communicate emotions through movement. Combined with William Leary’s blocking, each cast member is given attention by the audience at the appropriate moments, which can be quite a feat due to some of the limitations of this particular performance space.
Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical is a dark, exciting and sensual production which is appropriate for anyone interested in a Gothic romp to launch the Halloween season. If you are a fan of good singing, stellar performances and high-spirited explorations of the human psyche, Wolf Pack’s Jekyll & Hyde is the show to see.
Running time: Two hours and 20 minutes, including intermission.
Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical plays through October 13, 2019, at Wolf Pack Theatre Company performing at the Greenbelt Arts Center—123 Centerway, Greenbelt, MD. Tickets can be purchased online.