Jekyll and Hyde/music by Frank Wildhorn/book & lyrics by Leslie Bricusse/directed by Marco Gomez/DOMA@ The Met/through July 29
DOMA has a big and bold mission statement: enhancing your theatre experience beyond expectations. Competing with Musical Theatre of Los Angeles, MTW (Musical Theatre West) and Cabrillo, just to name a few, it sounds as if their productions will be of a more memorable calibre than the others. If that is an accurate interpretation, their aim is stretched way out of proportion. But...surprisingly, if you look at it from a more realistic angle, it applies most assuredly to my experience. Since this is my first visit to DOMA, I must admit, based on negative word-of-mouth reactions to previous shows, I was unexpectedly and pleasantly impressed with what I saw in their latest production of Jekyll & Hyde. And realizing that part of the talent comes from the college student arena, the result is all the more impressive. Now through July 29, on the stage at the Met in Hollywood, Jekyll & Hyde will play out its intriguing game of good versus evil in DOMA's exceedingly professional looking and sounding representation.
DOMA's cast is a singing ensemble, which is to say, there is not a bad voice in the chorus, and this suits Jekyll & Hyde's demands just fine and dandy, as Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse's score is fast, furious verging closely on rock opera. Director Marco Gomez has nicely staged "Facade", the Act I opening, with most of the 26 member cast front and center; the same may be said of Act II's catchy opener "Murder", somewhat akin to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Masquerade" in Phantom of the Opera. The pace is almost frantic with incessant spurts of the vibrantly chilling movement and color of Hyde's crime spree. The only argument I have with Gomez's staging is in positioning Henry Jekyll's laboratory upstage. When he is mixing his potions, Jekyll (Chris Kerrigan) has his back turned away from the audience, so that we are not privy to what he is doing specifically until he turns and moves downstage. A lab counter or table placed down center with Jekyll standing behind it, facing us, would serve much better, as it is far more fun to see the passionate expression on his face as he sets out on this one-of-a-kind diabolical journey to isolate evil.
Kerrigan's transformation into Hyde is and totally and electrically convincing. With merely removing his glasses, tossing his long hair about and slightly deepening his voice, he carries it off admirably. However, his Jekyll is, at least in the first act, less than fascinating. As is, his Jekyll is sturdy and forthright, but colorless. The women truly steal the show. Amber Gildersleeve is all grace and beauty as Emma and sings divinely. Cassandra Nuss as Lycy gives an equally miraculous performance as the good girl gone bad. Her "Bring On the Men" is captivating. Benai Boyd is terrfic as Nellie, Lucy's Madame, exhibiting one of the most dynamic voices onstage. Kudos as well to Jason T. Gaffney as Poole, Nik Roybal as John, Kevin Michael Moran as Emma's father and Michelle Holmes as stuck-up Lady Beaconsfield. Brandy Jacobs deserves heaps of praise for the simplistic yet elegant looking set and beautiful costumes. Angela Todaro does fine work with the limited choreography.
This is a fine production of Jekyll & Hyde with an excellent cast, and judging from what I've seen, I am looking forward to their next show,the delightfully superfluous Xanadu in September.