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Hornsby Musical Society: Jekyll & Hyde - Review by Daniel Conway

At the heart of the proto-science fiction classic Jekyll & Hyde is a conversation about duality and human nature, questions about hedonism and excess, and a morality tale about the need for balance between virtue and vice. Since it was published, this story has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times; each iteration choosing to focus on a different specific aspect. The Wildhorn musical is not my favourite adaptation of this story and its themes, but it makes for some great theatre and has some earworm melodies that stay with you.

At the helm of this production is director Tim Selby, who I believe has done a wonderful job of creating an engaging theatre experience. I have performed in the pioneer many times, and I was not sure how they were going to pull off the atmosphere of the show, which is not possible in the space, let alone the stage magic required to do this show successfully. The answer is, of course, very smart choices of lighting and staging. Selby has worked so well with his team to create a space and atmosphere that fits the show. I was impressed with the design of the stage and the way it was implemented, along with lighting to conceal entrances to allow for the stage magic to occur. All spaces come with challenges, and knowing this space as well as I do, I mean this with high praise. Selby and his team made it work better than I could imagine.

A show would be nothing without its sound. Musical Director Aiden Smith has done a truly remarkable job with the cast; they all sounded beautiful and were impressive as a unit in the bigger ensemble songs. While the opening always has the odd hitch with mics here and there, Smith should be proud of his cast and how they projected so these small moments never detracted from the great work. Choreographer Lauren Oxenham did a fantastic job with movement in this show. While not a dance-heavy musical, there was clearly a lot of thought into the movement to create levels, indicate power dynamics, and make use of the whole stage. The work of the production team really allows the ensemble to shine and utilizes them well to tell the story. One element of the production that I feel deserves to be celebrated wholeheartedly is the costuming. Jack Goggin, Cam Gower, Katie Thorpe, and the whole cast and crew have done a truly stellar job at sourcing and creating costumes that look era-appropriate and beautiful.

At the centre of this show is the man in two parts, the well-meaning and obsessed Jekyll, played by Nathan Lomas, and the vengeful and evil Hyde, played by Max Waterson. Ironically, despite being very different performers and playing roles that highlight their differences, I have the same things to say about them, and that is that they were born to play these roles. Lomas’ voice is suited to this genre of music perfectly; he has stunning high notes and is so controlled. Waterson has a beautiful power to his voice that just captures the role of Hyde that the script calls for. Both men were so committed and impressed me with their solo numbers. Honestly, I wished that the script had more of them interacting.

Equally opposed as the leading men, the women in Jekyll and Hyde are also balanced in their depiction. Emilia Henley gives Emma a gentle strength. She is firm and confident, and her operatic voice is beautiful. Contrasting well with Sarah Paull’s Lucy. She projects strength and bombastic energy in her introduction; Paull really leans into the inner softness and frailty of Lucy. I personally believe that the script fully underutilises these characters; they have some great songs which give these women a chance to shine, and I believe they really did a wonderful job with what they have been given.

The performances mentioned in this review are that of the principal leads; there is also an alternate cast that I am sure is just as phenomenal. I mention this because I am always impressed when a community theatre company treats their understudy/ alternate cast with just as much respect as their principals. It is touches like their promotion of alternate performances and their placement in the program that really highlight the community element of Hornsby Musical Society.

This is not an easy show, and to do it so successfully in a space that has limitations that I feel personally victimises the requirements of this script; well, that shows hard this cast and crew have worked. While this script might not be my Favorite adaptation of the story, this production might just be my Favorite production of this show.

I would not recommend this show if you too have a murderous ID living inside of you forever; it might get ideas.

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