REVIEW: JEKYLL & HYDE
at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
by Cassandra Lemmon
For a thrilling night out with great food, fun drinks, and a truly captivating performance, look no further than Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s JEKYLL & HYDE. Set in a simple and creative 19th century London street, the entire evening was just fun from the moment we walked in. The food choices were inspired by the London setting, and the cocktails were on theme as well. One drink called The Transformation arrives as blue liquid and then turns purple when lemon juice is added in. The wait staff were friendly and accommodated food allergies very well.
The story begins in a London asylum where Dr. Henry Jekyll is trying desperately to save his comatose father with an experimental procedure. Sadly the board of directors of St. Jude’s hospital will not grant him permission to experiment on a patient. After his engagement party, he visits a brothel and meets a prostitute named Lucy for whom he develops a soft spot. And he then decides he has no choice but to continue his experiment on himself. After a week, no one has seen him and his friends and fiancée, Emma, begin to worry. Utterson confronts him regarding his strange withdrawal and Jekyll brushes it off. Then Lucy arrives with an injury and tells him that a Mr. Hyde inflicted it and Jekyll starts to panic. Then murders begin to happen, all members of the board of directors of St. Jude’s. The city begins to gossip about who could be hunting these people and Jekyll struggles to retain control over his experiment.
The performance was exciting to watch. John Sosna played Jekyll/Hyde and so seamlessly changed his voice, posture, and facial expressions to easily demonstrate which persona he was in for each scene. This was especially impressive in the song Confrontation where he goes back and forth between the two in a strange dialog of his own. Both supporting actresses Katie Jackson (Emma) and Susanna Ballenski Houdesheldt (Lucy) gave strong performances that were vocally impressive and emotionally convincing. All three carried the show. While Kent Sugg was less convincing as Sir Carew and the opening numbers had some issues with pitch and balance, the rest of the cast put on a fun show to watch. The choreography in particular was impressive and so creative. The dance routine for Murder, Murder (wherein the murders happen) was the most riveting scene in the entire show. The use of the set to showcase certain dance moves while also using dance moves that kept the focus on the main action was very well balanced and truly entertaining.
The set for this show was simple at first glance. However, there were some very creative elements incorporated in it. To begin with, Dr. Jekyll’s lab was cranked in from behind a set of doors in the center of the set. It had its own lighting elements that were sometimes used as afterglow. There were also two shadow screens used throughout the show. They were mostly involved in the song Murder, Murder and incorporated into the dance routine. The murders were depicted with shadow making them more convincing but also beautifully done (which I realize is a bizarre way to describe murder…). Otherwise, only small pieces of furniture were brought on to change the scenes, leaving the two story back drop in place and giving the actors opportunity to carry the story on in multiple levels.
Having seen many productions at the Candlelight, I have to say that this is one of my favorites. The creative direction, choreography, and acting performances were just all around truly fun to watch and a great way to experience the classic story of JEKYLL & HYDE. The show runs through March 29 and I highly recommend having a fun night out with this show! For tickets or more information, contact the Candlelight Box Office by calling 970-744-3747 or online at www.coloradocandlelight.com.