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.