The last time I went to a musical, it was Jesus Christ Superstar, at the Point Theatre, in 1999. The Point is now called the O2 and is the perfect venue for concerts, but not great for musicals Something to do with the acoustics, I’ve heard. Anyway, a couple of years ago, when Ireland had the money, a theatre was built near the Grand Canal Docklands. It is called, imaginatively, the Grand Canal Theatre, a 2,500 seater venue, ready for some of the biggest musicals in the world to come our way. Maybe I’ll finally get to see Les Miserables, some day.
So this evening, some friends and I went to see Jekyll and Hyde. Okay, it’s not the biggest musical in the world, nor is it among the very best musical entertainment has to offer.(For my money, that particular accolade must go to My Fair Lady.) But it’s a classy production which takes a well-known text, and then turns into something out of the ordinary.
I’m sure most of you will know that the original story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was a short novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson – he of Treasure Island and Kidnapped fame. It tells of a doctor who experiments with the nature of good and evil and concocts a formula that will hopefully separate the two. The results are catastrophic and ultimately good man Jekyll loses control of his alter-ego, the monster Edward Hyde.
The text can be looked at from a number of angles. For psychiatrists and philosophers, it examines the good and evil that resides within each one of us, and the struggle humans have of keeping our dark side at bay. For other medical practitioners (and some sociologists), it highlights the nature of addiction. When the addict is clean, the good person is in control. When the addict uses and is in the throes of addiction, the dark side (or Hyde) has the keys to the castle. It’s a simplistic definition; no doubt there is more to this than what I’ve summarised. But at the end of it all is the story. It’s interpretation is up to the reader.
The musical features the talents of former Wet Wet Wet frontman, Marti Pellow; himself no stranger to addiction. Indeed the whole point of seeing a performer of his calibre and history playing a part such as Jekyll and Hyde reminds me of Robert Downey Jr. as he is now: playing characters with manic and addictive behaviours of their own. Experience is everything. It brings a sense of realism to the stage.
Standouts in the musical itself include the aforementioned Pellow, who can more than carry a tune. His centre-piece, This Is The Moment, is the highlight of the first act, right before his transformation into Hyde. Pellow’s co-stars each get their moment to shine, but I reserve special praise for the brilliant Sabrina Carter, who plays the conflicted but tragic Lucy Harris. Her solos, Someone Like You and A New Life, made the musical for me. Her duet with Sarah Earnshaw, who plays Emma, Jekyll’s fiancée, In His Eyes, is beautiful, too.
The sets were top-notch and invariably I felt a thrill each time I saw how the whole show flowed seamlessly. Like I said, it’s not the greatest musical I’ve ever seen, but as a night out, it beat sitting at home, waiting for something to happen. I really must make it my business to return to the theatre as soon as I can.
I see Spamalot is coming soon, to the same venue. Hmmm….