Special formula in Jekyll and Hyde

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Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical, produced by North Canterbury Musicals, May 10-26, at the Rangiora Town Hall. Reviewed by Shelley Topp

The dual role of Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde in North Canterbury Musicals’ new production Jekyll and Hyde is a perfect fit for lead actor Lance McBride.

His performance lit up the stage on opening night of the musical horror-drama in the Rangiora Town Hall last Thursday evening.

The musical is loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, first published in 1886.

Under the chandelier .. . The engagement party scene in the musical horror-drama. PHOTO: TREVOR WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEW

It tells the story of Dr Jekyll, a brilliant London doctor during the late 1800s who developed a chemical formula to help “tormented souls” locked in asylums, including his own father.

He seeks approval from St Jude’s Hospital’s board of governors to trial it on a human patient, but is refused permission. Instead, he tries it on himself. The experiment goes badly wrong, unleashing the darker side of Dr Jekyll’s mild-mannered, courteous personality and creating his twisted, violent alter ego who calls himself Edward Hyde, who goes on a murderous rampage through London.

Jekyll and Hyde is also a love story between Dr Jekyll and his high-society betrothed, Emma Carew (played by Briar Patrick), and Lucy Harris (played by Catherine Hay), the star attraction at the Red Rat a seedy London nightclub, who the doctor meets on the night of his engagement party.

It is a captivating story with a compelling musical score.

The tender duet between Emma and her father, Sir Danvers Carew (played by Warwick Shillito), was lovely.

Catherine Hay’s bawdy Bring on the Men was magnificent and her beautiful solo, Someone Like You, both in the first act, demonstrated her incredible range and versatility. Her chilling duet, Dangerous Game, with Edward Hyde, was also a highlight.

The split-level stage and use of a retractable gauze screen allowed rapid scene changes, which set a cracking pace.

The sets had well-chosen props, and a black background combined with clever, shadowy lighting delivered intimacy and authenticity with simplicity.

The crystal chandelier in the engagement party scene was a standout, as was the large, eerie, white cross suspended mid stage during the graveyard scene, a large street lamp and street-life backdrop for the street scenes, and the laboratory scene.

This is another superb production from North Canterbury Musicals, formerly known as the North Canterbury Musical Society.

About 10,000 volunteer hours have gone into producing the musical, according to its president, Lynne James. “I am in awe of the many talented people who have given their valuable time in order to present this show. My extreme gratitude is extended to each and every one of them.”

I couldn’t agree more.