The Village Tattler
Claudia D. Wheeler
March 30, 2017
The John W. Engeman Theater has not ceased to amaze audiences with its fantastic 2016-2017 season. Jekyll & Hyde is no exception. The amazing nineteenth-century period costumes, off-the-charts talent, and chemistry between the actors is worthy of a second visit to this show, which runs through Sunday, April 30, 2017. The musical will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00. Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at www.EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.
Set in nineteenth-century London and based on the classic novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, the musical Jekyll & Hyde features a score of pop rock hits from multi-Grammy and Tony-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double Oscar and Grammy winning Leslie Bricusse. It’s a tale many of us know well of two men, a doctor and a madman, and the two women who love them. This production is produced by Richard T. Dolce, the Engeman’s Producing Artistic Director, and directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato (Engeman Theater: Sound of Music, Hairspray; Broadway: The Wedding Singer (Asst. Choreo.), The Lion King (Res. Director); National Tours: Flashdance (Dir/Choreo), Jekyll & Hyde (Dir/Choreo), The Wedding Singer (Dir); International: House of Dancing Water (Artistic Director), New York; Regional: NYMF, Beckett Theater, Minetta Lane, Flatrock Playhouse, Palm Beach Dramaworks and the Zipper Theater). Musical direction is by Kristen Lee Rosenfeld (National Tour: Spring Awakening; NYC: Band of Angels, Divided – Composer). TheAssociate Director is Dana Iannuzzi (National/International Tour: Flashdance; NYC: ICON, The Cobalteans, Divided).
Acting and vocal recognition must go first to Nathaniel Hackmann, who plays both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with such astounding passion, giving the role more than 100 percent. The transformation scene from Jekyll to Hyde is mesmerizing and a particularly hard scene to pull off for any actor. Hackmann just soars in this production as the story unfolds, lending a believable and emotional depth to the character, as he portrays a man coming apart at the seams due to his own experimentation and his wish to play God. His vocals are of particular note, as Dr. Jekyll in “This is the Moment,” and with his romantic interest Emma in “Take Me As I Am,” but also as Hyde in “Alive” and with the character Lucy in “Dangerous Game.” It would be worth going to the production a second time just to listen to Hackmann’s impressive vocals.
Hackmann makes his Engeman debut in this production. Credits include Broadway/National Tours: Les Miserables (Valjean, Javert u/s), Paint Your Wagon (Steve); Regional: Beauty and the Beast at MUNY (Gaston), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Carousel, Ragtime, Into the Woods, Camelot, Sanders Family Christmas, Bye Bye Birdie).
Also of note are both leading ladies making Engeman debuts, who play characters Emma Carew and Lucy Harris–Liana Hunt and Caitlyn Caughell, respectively. They each are cast perfectly in their roles. Hunt gives just the right amount of sweetness and caring to her role as Emma, Dr. Jekyll’s fiancée, whose beautiful soprano voice shines in her duet with him, “Take Me As I Am.” Hunt’s credits include Broadway: Newsies (Katherine), Mamma Mia! (Sophie); National Tours: Wicked (Nessarose), Mamma Mia! (Sophie); Regional: Private Lives at Riverside Theatre, Les Miserables at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Beauty and the Beast at Jean’s Playhouse.
Caughell’s performance as the prostitute Lucy is right on the mark, with powerful vocals, especially notable in “Someone Like You” and “A New Life,” songs that any actress/singer would dream to have the chance to perform. Here the duality of good and evil meets up in Jekyll & Hyde. Jekyll first meets Lucy at The Red Rat, where Lucy is a bar girl. They are drawn to each other and Jekyll gives her his number before he leaves the bar, letting her know that she can rely on his help should she need it. Lucy becomes dangerously involved with Mr. Hyde.
The cast also includes a fantastic ensemble who perform in many well-choreographed numbers, including “Facade,” with Lucy in “Bring on the Men,” and of particular note, “Murder, Murder,” on the streets of London. The ensemble includes Danny Arnold, Ryan Bloomquist, Joey Calveri, Lily Dickinson, Lauren Gobes, Laura Helm, Deven Kolluri, Megan Koumis, Rebecca Kuznick, Tom Lucca, Jake Mills, William Mulligan, Bronson Norris Murphy, Blake Price, James D. Schultz, Teresa Whitt, and Jeff Williams.
Performing as a creative team, the amazing scenic design is by Stephen Dobay with costume design by Kurt Alger, lighting design by Keith A. Truax, sound design by Laura Shubert, and casting directors, Scott Wojcik and Holly Buczek of Wojcik/Seay Casting.