Powerful Vocals Dominate Doma Theatre Company's 'Jekyll & Hyde'
Though the story's kind of a downer, there are several reasons why you should see Doma Theatre's Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical, playing at The MET though July 29. Reason #1? Listening to the powerhouse performance of Cassandra Nuss, as Lucy the prostitute who pines for a better life with the respectable Dr. Henry Jekyll (Chris Kerrigan), but instead captures the attention of the doctor's evil alter ego, Hyde (also played by Kerrigan).
She belts the show's signature ballad "Someone Like You," towards the end of the first act, showcasing a voice and talent that moved the audience through the sheer emotion packed in every note.
Based on the classic 1886 novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, the stage version strays from the original by focusing on competing love stories of sorts for the Jekyll/Hyde pair. And that brings us to reason #2 for seeing the play: Amber Gildersleeve as Jekyll's fiancee, Emma. Her lilting soprano was a nice contrast to Nuss' soulful song stylings, especially noticeable in their duet "In His Eyes."
With book/lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn, the pop operetta—dressed up in 19th century costume—is directed by Marco Gomez, choreographed by Angela Todaro with musical direction by a 21-year-old Chris Raymond. We mention each of them because the production is a tightly crafted and highly entertaining show—made more remarkable by the team's use of space in the "intimate" (aka small) theater. In several scenes, there were more than two dozen cast members singing and dancing on stage at once, which, trust us, was no easy feat.
Kerrigan does an admirable job of playing the dual lead roles of the production, though we have to admit that his portrayal of Hyde was far more interesting than the "good" doctor, who experimented on himself to isolate the evil in human nature. The audience doesn't even meet Hyde until later in the first act, but when it happens, Kerrigan shines in a Jekyll/Hyde duet in the song "Transformation" (reason #3).
The actor morphs between characters before our eyes, and it's fascinating to watch. Though vocally, he may not be able to compete with his female leads, the physicality—both nuanced and powerful—that he uses in his performance is unmatched.
While some of the supporting players are a little out of their league, we must mention Benai Boyd as the prostitute Nellie, who proves to be an equal partner to Nuss in the duet, "The Girls of the Night." The ensemble's sexy number "Bring on the Men," set in the brothel is a creatively choreographed number, and one of the audience favorites.
While the show isn't perfect—including a really bad madman's wig, a few off key moments, and a couple of missteps between scenes that we could see from where we were sitting—Jekyll & Hyde is well worth seeing, even if just to say that you caught the leads before they became famous.