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‘Jekyll & Hyde’ musical looks at good versus evil

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By Sara Miller

As the late-summer days grow shorter, and the shadows begin to lengthen, children start planning for Halloween. The costume catalogs are filled with ghosts and mad scientists, and point to our human obsession with the underbelly of life.

The Evergreen Chorale’s production of “Jekyll & Hyde,” which opens this weekend, unleashes its own dark side in a musical tale of a man raging a battle between good and evil in his own mind.
“Jekyll & Hyde” is a musical based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story about a brilliant doctor whose experiments with human personality create a murderous counterpart. Convinced the cure for his father’s mental illness lies in the separation of man’s evil nature from his good, Dr. Henry Jekyll unwittingly unleashes a dual personality, wreaking havoc in the streets of late 19th century London as the savage, maniacal Edward Hyde.
“We chose this show because we wanted to embrace some newer repertoire that would stretch the Chorale artistically. The show has exquisitely beautiful music and an exciting story,” says artistic director Christine Gaudreau.
The Chorale is staging the original production of the show, complete with an eight-piece orchestra. The show includes all of the classic songs such as “Someone Like You,” “A New Life,” and “This is the Moment.”  “This is the Moment” is the most famous song from the musical and was performed at the 1994 Olympics. The song is sung just before Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde.
Matt Wessel, who was last seen in the Evergreen Chorale’s production of “Evita,” stars as both Jekyll & Hyde.
“Matt is absolutely amazing in the part. It’s really a tour de force for that character. The most challenging part is a piece called “Confrontation” where Jekyll has a confrontation with Hyde. Matt switches character every few bars. He uses a different vocal pattern and a different posture for each character,” says Gaudreau.
Wessel is joined by Rebecca Donnella as Jekyll’s fiancé, Emma Danvers, and Michal McDowell as Lucy Harris, the prostitute Jekyll befriends and Hyde abuses. The cast of 26 is comprised of a good mix of regular Chorale voices as well as a line-up of new talent from the Denver area. The production even has four high school actors in the ensemble.  
To honor the production’s young thespians, the Chorale has made Wednesday, Sept. 11, high school night. For one night, high schoolers may purchase discounted tickets at the door and enjoy pizza, drinks and the full dress rehearsal of the show. This preview production starts at 7 p.m.
Students and adults alike are sure to experience the thrill of being transported to 19th-century London.  The shows set is the vision of director Erika Kae and was designed by Lori Worthman. Combined with lighting effects by Kenrick Fischer, the set gives the impression of scurry through the dark street of London. The cast has a portion of their rehearsals dedicated to “wall choreography” to ensure that the series of moveable panels turn, flip and switch with exacting precision.
Sticking with the mad scientist motif, the Chorale has created some concession to fit the theme.  Audience members can enjoy tasty treats and a drink called “The Potion” that bubbles and pops.
“Jekyll & Hyde” runs for four weekends.  For more information about high school night or to order tickets, visit www.evergreenchorale.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.