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Review: Jekyll and Hyde The Musical

What streak of madness lies inside me?  What is the truth my fears conceal? What evil force makes Edward Hyde of me?  What darker side of me does he reveal? So says Dr. Henry Jekyll as he veers down a path of evil from which he will not return.

And so Music Guild concludes its stellar, well-balanced summer season. I say well-balanced because the Guild staged productions that appealed to just about every taste from the silly Something Rotten! to the enchanting Cinderella and now the thought provoking Jekyll & Hyde. While each show was terrific in its own way, personally, I like a little more meat on the bone. This show fills the bill.

Director Heather Herkelman states in her program notes, that Jekyll & Hyde explores the tension between moral vs. bad and that “maybe the line between good and evil is not so distinct.” It posits the universal theme that we all have a dark side just waiting to be freed as expressed in the number, “Faҫade.”

The story revolves around Dr. Henry Jekyll whose hopelessly insane father has been committed to St. Jude’s Mental Hospital. Jekyll believes the evil in his father’s soul is the cause of his illness, wonders why man is both good and evil and becomes obsessed with finding a way to separate the two.

He petitions the board of the hospital to conduct experiments to heal those lost souls but is turned down. His obsession leads him to the laboratory where he concocts a potion that releases his demonic alter ego: Edward Hyde. His initial, noble intent was to remove suffering from mankind but it goes terribly wrong.

Jekyll is engaged to the lovely, innocent Emma Carew, daughter of the head of the board at St. Jude’s. For his bachelor party he takes his reluctant best friend to a local brothel. There he meets the bad girl with a heart of gold, Lucy Harris, and we get our first glimpse into Jekyll’s dark side.

Jekyll’s experimentation spirals downward as Hyde begins a series of murders targeting those whose so called “good” faҫade has masked their darker sides, beginning with the duplicitous Bishop of Basingstoke and working his way through the board members of St. Jude’s, avenging their rejection of Jekyll’s theories. Soon, Jekyll is unable to control his transformations into Hyde and in his final manifestation murders the vulnerable Lucy.

I realize I’m sounding like a broken record with the paeans of praise I’ve been heaping on Music Guild’s productions, but I’m simply running out of superlatives and even Roget’s Thesaurus is failing me. I’m astounded by the amount and quality of vocal talent we have in the Quad Cities. Taylor Bley’s Jekyll/Hyde is outstanding especially in the formidable number “Angst,” with its rapid-fire switches between the two personalities. Megan Warren’s Emma is the perfect, sweetly naive fianceé whose song, “Once Upon a Dream,” soars and Ariela Policastro’s Lucy is the impeccable counterpoint with her heartbreaking number, “Someone Like You.” The two perform a duet of “In His Eyes” that brought tears to mine.

Again, kudos go out to an outstanding crew for the scene changes and costuming but the flaw in this show was the backdrop of the London skyline which had several VERY visible fraying seams that marred an otherwise magnificent set.

That aside, this is an A+++ show that you should definitely try to take in. Jekyll & Hyde continues August 11 through 13 at 7:30 p.m. and August 14 at 2:00 p.m. in Prospect Park, Moline.