Wednesday, 23 March 2016

"Jekyll & Hyde" by People's Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre

This is the first time that I've seen this as a musical, and it's not that often performed, which is why this has come as such a very pleasant experience this evening. "Jekyll & Hyde" is the story of Dr Henry Jekyll whose human behaviour research proposition is rejected by the Board of Governors of St Jude's Hospital as "sacrilege and lunacy". Jekyll decides that he is going to carry on with his research, and tests his theory on himself, with horrific results, which included wreaking revenge on those who dared to say "nay" to his ideas.

The People's Theatre Company have a very bright star among many bright stars in their midst with the leading man, Curtis Taylor-Tipton. I've heard Curtis before in musicals but never have I heard him sing like this. His voice is amazing; it's power, emotion, tone, range and quality just takes your breath away. He creates an air of suspense as Hyde and when he appears in Lucy's room near the end, the way the lightning flash highlighted him, sent a chill over the whole theatre. Curtis has such an air about his acting that you are almost impelled to follow his every move on stage. You really don't want to take you eyes off of him. He is PTC's very own Ramon Karimloo and I have a feeling that he is destined for  a long career in musical theatre. West End theatres watch out in a few years' time. I can also imagine him having a successful recording career as well with that voice.

Jekyll's fiancee, Emma, played by Rachel Barry is mesmerising, and what a gorgeous voice she has. Operatic with a beautiful clear tone and the emotion and passion she has when she sings is just like floating on a  cloud. beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to. What a combination.

Luke Grainger, as John Utterson, Jekyll's long time legal and personal friend also has stage presence by the Gladstone bagful, again blessed with a voice made for musical theatre.

Lucy, played by Lauren Gill, first meets Jekyll and Utterson in the rather dubious establishment, The Red Rat, where she is a lady of the night who is mistreated by the men folk she associates with but develops a soft spot for Jekyll, but to her cost. Lauren's voice was courtesy of Morven Harrison tonight due to a, hopefully short lived illness, for Lauren. Morven's voice has a touch of the Barbra Streisand about it, but you must feel a bit sorry for Lauren as she lip-synched her way through as I know Lauren has just as good a voice and Lauren must feel a bit frustrated about not being able to perform and sing. While we were robbed of Lauren's vocals though, we were blessed with Morven's.

It's a large cast made up with many well known and recognisable faces from Nottingham's stages. Rob Harrison as Simon Stride, Barry Hobbs as General Glossop, Lucas Young as the foppish Sir Archibold Proops and Paice Lees as Lord Savage. Paul Rice plays Bishop Of Basingstoke and Harriet Hollowell as Lady Beaconsfield, all meeting a grisly end at the hands of Jekyll. Jason Wrightham plays the bullying Spider who has a hold over Lucy and Jenny Scott plays Nellie from the Red Rat.

Some very good ensemble pieces for the Red Rat scenes as well as the street scenes were terror lurked close at hand, making the township very nervous to be out at night.

Now if I hadn't known that there was a live orchestra in the pit, I would have sworn that this was a recorded soundtrack because the sound was so good. Sounding like it had a full orchestra in there, musical director David Hails, did an amazing job.

Although the scenery and sets weren't extravagant, they created just the right atmosphere and that worked well, showing that you didn't need big sets and flash scenery to make an impact. A simple idea, which I imagine wasn't as simple as it looked, designed by Chris Brawn and Paul Rice.

An effective and evocative sound and light design by the College Street Technicians which created just the right atmosphere for the different moods.

Directed by Chris Teasdale, this was a labour of love for Chris and it showed. The whole cast did him proud, and I'm sure that he is very proud of his wonderful production and his incredibly talented cast.

It would be lovely to find out that through the week the audience figures increased because this is now one of my favourite shows of this year and I would really hate for anyone who loves quality theatre to miss out on this amazing production. You will find your mouth dropping open at times at the incredible vocals and you may not get the opportunity to see quality and class like this again if some of these actors decide to try their hand in London, and I do believe that this is a possibility with the standard of tonight's show. So get your tickets while you can.

"Jekyll & Hyde the Musical" is on at the Nottingham Arts Theatre, by the People's Theatre Company, until Saturday 26 March 2016. just watch out for the sound of a swish of a cape and a top hat on your way home!!!

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