By Jamie Harrington
When I was asked to direct Jekyll and Hyde last year, I was extremely excited to take on such a challenging show. It is a show that has been a part of my theatrical life since I was a child. The first time I remember hearing the music was in 8th grade. My choir teacher had us sing “This Is The Moment” for part of our spring show. All the kids loved it. Then a couple of years later, a friend of mine named David handed me a double cassette tape (I’m old) recording of what I now understand was the concept album of Jekyll and Hyde. He said that he knew that I loved Broadway shows and that I would really like J&H. He wasn’t wrong. I listened to that cassette tape on repeat until it got destroyed on my move to college. Imagine my surprise when I was in college and a few friends of mine and I went to see it on Broadway with the original cast and much of the music was different. I knew the tunes, but the lyrics and songs were different. That’s when I realized that I had fallen in love with the concept album and quickly got the Broadway CD (movin’ on up) to fill in the gaps. I could sing every character’s part. I loved it. There were things staging-wise that I was enthralled with. The red umbrella in “Murder, Murder,” the hair whips in “Confrontation” (until I had a friend do that scene on a college talent show night that made me laugh out loud…I think that was their point. And when I watched the David Hasselhoff version… that’s…something…), the song “His Work And Nothing More,” I could go on and on. I have wanted to create my own take on this show for years.
Then, I was asked to direct. I knew this show had to have a team that was on top of their game and a cast just as strong. I was worried about who I would get to play Jekyll/Hyde. That is a beast of a role, no pun intended. Billy sang the songs effortlessly and over the course of this run has created such a tragic hero. You root for him, become disgusted with him, and then sympathize. He takes us on this roller coaster of emotions. He does it with tireless work that he makes seem easy and you know it is anything but easy. My ladies who auditioned were just as strong. Their schedules were crazy due to being in other shows, getting married, and general conflicts that I decided to double cast. Alex, Ashley, Hannah and Cortlin have truly created these beautifully well-rounded characters that you root for, feel for, and are pained for as the story unfolds. William Bentley as Utterson gives us just a few moments of comic relief but also fights for his dear friend to return from the other side. You believe him and his friendship journey. My Board of Governors has created such well-rounded characters, as well. I love how they make you root for their demise and then you feel “kind of ” bad because you realize that you are rooting for their demise. The cast fills out the ensemble beautifully. They work together to create the pictures on stage that tell the story in the best way possible.
Tracy Steele, my choreographer and dear friend, created moments in the show that I don’t think any J&H show has ever had. “Dangerous Game” is… dangerous. It’s intriguing, sexy and smart. It plays into the previously sung “Someone Like You” with identical beginning sections of choreography, but the intent and execution are completely different to create two totally different dances. And then “Bring On The Men”… the men were brought. Amanda Hines is amazing at her music directions. Like, seriously, I’m in awe of her talents. We have strong singers and she brought out the best in everyone. Janet Kile is costuming this show with her assistant Katie Neff. Come see this show for the costumes alone. The thought that is put into these costumes would surprise you. You know they look good, but the hours of research show. David Swicegood did the wigs and they’re stunning. Elizabeth Oliveira is stage managing this giant pageant with ease. I think it’s because she’s smart and has a great eye for staging and ear for music. And then there’s me. I got to direct this crazy amazing show. I got to put “His Work and Nothing More” on stage. I got to block “Facade” and “Murder, Murder.” That is a dream come true. For someone who has loved this show almost as long as I have been alive, it has been a glorious run. I don’t know if I have ever worked on a show that felt this “easy.” Everything just fell into place. We took multiple days off in a row. Who does that on a show like this? The cast and crew made it that way. When you’re a kid and you dream of getting to do a show like this, and then you do it and it checks all the boxes for a dream fulfilled, it feels wonderful. I hope you enjoy Jekyll and Hyde as much as I do.