Best of the Week 2018-2019: Teaching to the Future
THE EDWARDIAN PLAYERS' SPRING PLAY, JEKYLL & HYDE ENCOURAGES DEPARTMENT COLLABORATION & INNOVATION
Premiering this weekend, the Edwardian Players' spring production of the musical horror-drama Jekyll & Hyde will bring to life the ultimate struggle between good and evil. Based on the classic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson and featuring a pop rock score written by Grammy and Tony nominated Frank Wildhorn and Oscar and Grammy winner Leslie Bricusse, Jekyll & Hyde is a musical phenomenon that will surely mesmerize audiences from the St. Edward stage. "We've wanted to do this show for a long time, but it's very demanding on the cast and other technological areas," says Mr. Robert Burns, Director of the Performing Arts Department. "Until now, we really didn't have the resources, but thanks to generous donations and a very talented cast and crew, we felt we could do the show justice." The powerful story of Jekyll & Hyde tells a tale of two men, the passionate scientist, Doctor Henry Jekylll and Mr. Edward Hyde, the manifestation of Jekyll's inner demons. While Dr. Jekyll is determined to find a chemical breakthrough to solve mankind's medical challenges, he defaults to using himself as the subject of his experiments, unintentionally creating the madman, Mr. Hyde.
"Jekyll & Hyde is a very unusual theatrical experience and we are tackling certain aspects of the show in many ways that are truly innovative," says Mr. Burns. "There are close to 150 lighting changes alone that help tell the story, creating links between characters and events that will have a subconscious effect on the audience. We are also using video and sound effects in many new ways for us." This year's spring production has also provided an opportunity for other departments at St. Ed's to collaborate with the Edwardian Players to take this show to the next level. IB Chemistry students, led by Science Department Chair Mrs. Anne Marie Lavelle, have created and refined a color changing chemical reaction that will be used on stage during Dr. Jekyll's laboratory scenes. Associate VP of Buildings and Grounds Mr. John Goers '78, along with the stage crew, built some of the more magical technological props used throughout the show, including a suspended 28-foot bridge. Not only does this show require striking visual elements and a strong tech team, but it also looks to intentional, detailed theming to transport audiences back to Victorian England. To effectively tell the story of Jekyll & Hyde, the design elements play a crucial role in seamlessly transitioning from scene to scene. Mr. Burns' approach, "minimalist yet elaborate," uses lighting, sound, costumes and set pieces to communicate the time period and location for this story. "For me, the intent of the costuming is two-fold in this production: stay true to Victorian style and use color to visually differentiate between the poor and wealthy ensembles - a major theme in this production. You should be able to look at the entire cast in their costumes and tell who is who. This helps the audience concentrate on the storyline and enjoy the wonderful music and scenery," says Mrs. Lisa Hirzel of the Performing Arts Department.
"The actors have also really had to stretch their acting abilities for this show," says Mr. Burns. "Richie Pokrywka '21, who plays Jekyll/Hyde, has worked diligently to be able to control his physical appearance and voice to change between characters in an instant. In one scene, Richie switches back and forth between Jekyll and Hyde, only portraying each character for two to 15 seconds in alternation." Similarly to its characters, the storyline of Jekyll & Hyde alternates between a love story, filled with happiness and promise, to one that is dark and evil. "This show raises some really important questions for today's students - one being if we have the science to do something, should we? What risks are worth taking? And when does one's work become an unhealthy obsession?" says Mr. Burns. Jekyll & Hyde resonates with moral challenges humans are often faced with, providing students with a platform to talk about and self-reflect on the impact of one's decisions and the nature of good versus evil. The cast, crew and pit of Jekyll & Hyde have truly come together as a team to put on this amazing production and to embody the powerful messages behind the story. "This show gives us a chance to all directly affect the performances the audiences see. Everyone has to do their part perfectly in order for the show to work," says Emerson Gray '21, who plays the Priest. "I've really enjoyed helping people explore different acting methods and finding what works best for them and their characters," says Andy Hoffman '19, who plays Stride. "My favorite thing about performing in Jekyll and Hyde is being a part of something greater than myself and providing entertainment for others," says Liam Kenehan '20, who plays Lord Savage.
"Audiences will be wowed by this show," says Mr. Burns. "Every aspect of Jekyll & Hyde is so well done, and the cohesiveness and continuity achieved will amaze. I hope the show will give audiences some content to think about and talk about that will, hopefully, enrich their human experience as all art should." Performances of Jekyll & Hyde are today, Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance or the night of the show. For more ticket information, click here. Please come out to support the cast, crew and pit of Jekyll & Hyde and good luck on tonight's opening night!