Theater review: ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ at the Camille Playhouse

‘Jekyll & Hyde’ is now playing at the Camille Playhouse in Brownsville. Photo: Camille Playhouse

Now playing at the Camille Playhouse is ‘Jekyll & Hyde,’ based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic thriller. After a successful opening night, it continues this weekend for the final three performances on Friday, and Saturday at 8p.m. and Sunday at 2p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and are available online. Jekyll & Hyde was conceived for the stage by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn with book & lyrics by Leslie Bricusee, music by Frank Wildhorn, orchestrations by Kim Scharnberg and arrangements by Jason Howland. ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ is the gripping tale of a brilliant mind gone horrifically awry, set to a powerful pop-rock score by Frank Wildhorn with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

‘Jekyll & Hyde’ begins with the introduction of John Utterson (Raul Lozano), Jekyll’s lawyer and best friend and Sir Danvers Carew (Bobby Torres), Jekyll’s future father in law. They take the audience back to a time when Jekyll (Anthony Ruiz) is in an insane asylum singing of his comatose father “Lost In the Darkness.” Jekyll believes that the evil in his father’s soul has caused his illness and tells the audience how he wants to find out why people are both good and evil and about his attempts to separate the good from the evil in the human personality. When the Board of Governors of St. Jude’s Hospital denies him a research proposal to test his formula on a human subject “Board of Governors,” the undeterred Jekyll decides to test the formula on himself “This Is the Moment.” He inadvertently creates an alternate personality of pure evil, named Mr. Hyde, who inflicts murderous devastation on the city of London. As his fiancée Emma (Evany Jackson) grows increasingly fearful for her betrothed, a prostitute, Lucy (Jocelyn Michelle), finds herself dangerously involved with both the doctor and his alter ego. Struggling to control Hyde before he takes over for good, Jekyll races to find a cure for the demon he has created in his own mind.

This production is different than the past ones this season at the Camille Playhouse. With themes including violence, lies and deceit, repression, and mankind’s duality (good vs. evil), it is darker than most audiences are used to but is well worth experiencing. The talented cast, which includes Anthony Ruiz as Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde, Evany Jackson as Emma Carew, and Jocelyn Michelle as Lucy Harris, does an impressive job of bringing this classic but relevant story to life on the local stage. The vocal talent is some of the best seen this season, especially Evany Jackson, whose scene stealing portrayal of the loving but long suffering Emma Crew is outstanding. Unfortunately, the sound system did not cooperate on opening night but hopefully this has been fixed. Anthony Ruiz does an excellent job depicting both the timid but brilliant Jekyll and the aggressive and murderous Mr. Hyde. He effortlessly switches between the personalities and manages to elicit the audience’s sympathy up to his tragic end. The costumes are gorgeous and the brilliant use of red lighting when Jekyll is transforming into Mr. Hyde, “First Transformation,” shows the darkness of the moment, especially at the end when he is struggling between both personalities. Show highlights include “Take Me As I Am” which emphasizes the strength of Jekyll and Emma’s relationship, “Bring On the Men” by Lucy and the prostitutes that temporarily lightens the mood, and “This Is the Moment” when Jekyll decides to throw caution to the wind and test the formula on himself. Overall, ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ is an intense and tragic tale of man’s constant struggle with his inner demons; it is a definite must-see production.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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