Local Theatre: Jekyll & Hyde

Ken AshfordLocal Interest, Theatre2 Comments

Despite some internal problems (which I shall not go into), it looks like the show is a success, and if the review is right, it’s due to the stagework of David Joy:

With its current production of Jekyll & Hyde, the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem is taking on quite a challenge, one that proved worthwhile during last night’s sneak-preview performance.

The show, which will open tonight at the Arts Council Theatre, proves a solid winner for lots of reasons. One of the most important is the man who plays the title role(s): David Joy.

Joy plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, a London physician who hopes to find a cure for his father who is suffering in a mental institution. He experiments on himself in an attempt to separate the evil and good, and in so doing, the evil begins to take over in the form of a new persona named Edward Hyde.

This transformation, of course, underscores the show’s exploration of good and evil warring with one another. It goes back and forth, calling on Joy to play two different characters over the course of a fairly long night (the show lasts more than 2 hours and 30 minutes).

Joy remains in command of the diverse material from beginning to end, proving particularly compelling during his transformations. He is the affable, idealist and workaholic Jekyll one moment and someone completely different in Hyde the next. And each part of the Jekyll/Hyde character is drawn to a different woman: Emma (Courtney Willis) and Lucy (Lauren Stephenson).

In musical terms, some of the soloists are not on top of every note in their parts. But they conquer enough of Frank Wildhorn’s almost-operatic music, and in convincing-enough fashion, to make us overlook the occasional deficiency here and there.

The chorus sounds powerful and, setting an example for many other groups to follow, enunciates each and every word clearly — which is so important in Jekyll, in which music dominates. Margaret Gallagher proves an adept music director.

The imaginative stage direction of Bobby Bodford and the choreography of Benji Starcher are impressive. Scenes that would otherwise look crowded and/or static come alive in visually inventive ways.

What scenic designer Bland Wade has done with the sets is noteworthy, too, proving that a lot of interesting looks can be achieved with just a few materials — which include a couple of red frames and backdrops of drawings that evoke Victorian England.

■ The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem will present Jekyll and Hyde at 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and April 10-12 and 17-19, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, and April 13 and 20. Tickets are $22, $20 for senior adults and $18 for students at the Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Drive. Call 336-725-4001.

Congrats to David and the rest of the cast.