JEKYLL AND HYDE Beautifully Staged

by Walter Bender

Sharing the stage Sean Wilcox as Hyde and Christine Girolami as Lucy in Center Stage Productions' rendition of JEKYLL AND HYDE, THE MUSICAL.

Center Stage Productions in Aston, PA opened this week with a production of JEKYLL AND HYDE, THE MUSICAL. This is a re-telling of the story of the doctor who researches the origin of evil in man, and his attempt to find a cure to separate good from evil. Center Stage Productions has assembled a very talented group of young performers, and this show is a terrific example of that talent.

The stage (in the Life Center building on the campus of Neumann University) has 3 acting areas set upstage, with a large open area in front. Director Michael Malloy uses the space very effectively, with minimal set changes to slow the action. The lighting design by Brian Kavanagh was stellar, with lighting changes enhancing both the different scenes and the difficult transformations of Jekyll and Hyde. The stage crew worked very efficiently to move things along. And, the costumes were beautiful, yet allowed each character to move easily around the stage.

The title characters were played by Sean Wilcox. Mr. Wilcox had a very difficult task, playing two very different vocal characters. He did beautifully, his Hyde having the growling characteristics of the animal, his Jekyll’s tones pure. There is one particularly difficult solo near the end of the musical where the two characters argue, and I was extremely impressed with his vocal dexterity.

Meghan Hickey (Emma) and Christine Girolami (Lucy) portray the love interests of each of the title characters. Their voices are amazing…both show vocal maturity beyond their years with some extremely difficult material. Their duet in the second act was breathtaking. Both of these young women have long careers ahead of them.

Randy Marcheski (Sir Danvers Carew) and Dominic Santos (Gabriel John Utterson) show their acting and singing talents very well. Mr. Marcheski as Emma’s father and Jekyll’s mentor shows a great vocal talent and maintains his character (a much older man than he) consistently. Mr. Santos as the friend of Jekyll is supportive, both friend and confidante, and we in the audience readily related to his anguish. There were many other talents in this show, unfortunately too many for me to mention all of them in this review. However, I was amazed at the depth of vocal and acting talent on the stage.

Jekyll and Hyde is perhaps one of the most difficult musicals for a vocal performer. Not only does the lead character have to do two disparate voices, the entire show has music that challenges the skills of even the most veteran vocalist. The cast of this show handled the music with little problem, and each song was more beautifully done than the last.

Center Stage Productions is a hidden gem. The cast, crew, support staff and management are all young men and women from the area, many of them Neumann graduates and students. This was my first excursion to see a production there, but far from my last. Congratulations on a beautiful production.

Book & Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Directed by Michael Malloy
Assisted by Evan Snyder
Choreographed by Gina Veith
August 19 – 22, 2010
Center Stage Productions at
Neumann University’s Bruder Life Center
1 Neumann Drive
Aston, PA 19014

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