‘Jekyll & Hyde’ is scary good!

By on October 9, 2019

At last, the Halloween season has arrived, and with it, a spate of horror musicals to help set the mood.

My first fright-inducing offering of the season was “Jekyll & Hyde” at Prima Theatre.

Located in a repurposed warehouse across the street from Lancaster’s Clock Tower Apartments, Prima is a great venue. I’ve seen three shows there so far, and each time, the seating arrangement has been different. Their chairs are comfy and armless, which matters to plus-sized show-goers like myself.

The folks are Prima are especially welcoming. I always feel like I’m walking into a big party. One especially cool thing about this particular theater company is that they recruit volunteers from within their patron pool. There’s a sign-up board in the lobby. I love that.

Molly Grace B

The show

Anyone who’s ever read the novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” by Robert Louis Stevenson knows that this is not a story with a happy ending.

I’m not one of those reviewers who feels the need to spell out plots or give spoilers. I’d rather tell you about the production and dole out accolades to the actors and crew.

In short, “Jekyll & Hyde” is a musical adaptation of the book in which a late 19th century physician working with mental patients creates an elixir that he feels will “cure” those who are mentally afflicted. The problem is, he cannot get the backing of the hospital board to go forward with testing on patients. Devoted and determined, he takes it upon himself to be a test subject. And things get pretty ugly from there on out.

The musical, like the book, focuses on the duality of one man, while reminding the audience that each of us has a little bit of Jekyll and a little bit of Hyde inside of us.

Randy Jeter

The players

The star of “Jekyll & Hyde” is Randy Jeter — or should I say “stars?” This guy… wow. First of all, his voice was incomparable. The timbre and ping were just perfect for his solo numbers. Because he was essentially playing two roles, physicality and facial expression were terribly important. Although the lighting director used colored lights and effects to clue the audience as to when Jekyll was singing or Hyde was singing, it really wasn’t necessary at all. Jeter was masterful at slipping back and forth between the two characters. He brought the house to its feet.

The two female leads — Madison Paige Buck, who portrayed Dr. Jekyll’s betrothed, Emma Carew, and Molly Grace B, who played the love interest of Edward Hyde — worked in perfect counterpoint to one another. Both had extremely strong voices with very different appeal. It would be impossible to pick a favorite. While each had fantastic solo numbers, and duets with other members of the cast, it was their duet with one another,” In His Eyes,” that was my favorite song in the musical.

The cast is full of interesting faces and personalities, most of whom enact multiple roles. Big kudos to costume designer, Diana Nugent; choreographer, Isaac Hunnicutt; and director/adapter, Elizabeth Lucas.

Madison Paige Buck

End notes

Now, just a couple words of caution:

  • This is not a feel-good musical.
  • The score is ballad-heavy. You may find yourself (like me) feeling like many of the songs “sound the same.” Thankfully, the cast is loaded with unique, gifted vocalists to combat this.
  • There is no intermission. The show is 90 minutes long.
  • This show is not for kids. It contains sexual themes, adult language, and some violence (but no gore).

If you’re looking for a unique, seasonal show with (and this is no lie) the best leading vocals I have heard all year… go see “Jekyll & Hyde.”

The show runs through Oct. 26. There are ticket options for various budgets, including exclusive front row cabaret-style tables that put you right in the action. They can be purchased online at primalancaster.org, or by calling the box office at 717-327-5124.

Features editor Melissa Hunnefield welcomes your questions and comments at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

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