Editor’s Note: Although all showings of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” are sold out, the box office will be selling standing-room only tickets up to an hour before the show. These tickets are $12.
By Rob Bradfield
“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has been told and retold countless times with varying results.
Baylor Theatre’s latest interpretation, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, is a refreshing departure from the string of movies and one Tony nominated musical. It had everything that Jekyll and Hyde should have — fog, gaslight street lamps, British accents, top hats — but it lacked the overdone, overplayed elements of Hyde’s past.
What’s most fascinating about this version is the depth of Hyde as a character. Director Josiah Wallace stayed away from the more traditional monstrous versions of Hyde. Instead of a beast, Hyde is a man (or sometimes woman) with a full spectrum of emotions that run riot over the stage. Without giving too much away, one of the play’s greatest points was that Edward Hyde can turn up in surprising places.
Some of those places include the streets of London, lecture halls, and Jekyll’s infamous laboratory. All these are built into a rolling centerpiece that, while multi-storied, is fluid enough to set the scene without crowding the already small Mabee Theatre stage. Aside from some technical issues involving the door, and the noise that the great revolving set piece made whenever it was moved, opening night ran smoothly. Unlike the streets of Victorian London, the set did look incredibly good.
However, what has destroyed many good looking plays in the past is what happens around the set.
Normally it isn’t appropriate in reviews to talk about student-actors, because they are first and foremost students. They’re learning their trade just like pre-med or business majors and none of them should be expected to perform surgery, negotiate a contract or put on a Tony winning performance. What I will say about this cast is that I was duly impressed by their ability to believably take on a variety of roles. The cast performed very well as an ensemble, and were obviously enjoying themselves on stage. I have nothing but praise to share with this cast.
I’m not alone in my appreciation of their performance either. The audience seemed to enjoy it. I happened to have the privilege of eavesdropping on even President Kenn Starr voicing his approval.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is definitely a performance worth seeing, but as the show is completely sold out for the rest of the week you’ll have to purchase a standing room ticket an hour before curtain.
While live theater doesn’t have the special effects of movies and it costs more than the Netflix you’re stealing from your friend, each performance is a unique, lively and fleeting experience that cannot be replicated. But just because there will never be another opening night, I have every confidence that the rest of Baylor Theatre’s performances of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” will be just as gripping as the first.