There is so much to like about the new production of Jekyll and Hyde The Musical, directed by Hayden Tee. Brendan Maclean stars as the titular Jekyll slash Hyde, Brady Peeti as Lucy Harris, the love interest and the rising star that is Georgina Hopson playing Emma Carew, the fiancée, collectively forming an A-Team of LGBTQI+ talent at the helm of this production. 

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Maclean, in his musical theatre debut, makes excellent use of his cabaret skills, engaging the audience with direct eye contact, which kinda makes The Hayes perfect for his style of performance. Peeti brings real gravitas to her role and you can feel her take us to the dark places she’s been and there’re suspicions Hopson’s jaw-dropping talent is barely scratching the surface of what she can actually do – run for cover then turn and applause if you’re lucky enough to see her in a role that allows her to release that tsunami of sounds from where it’s stored!

Each of the members of the pared-down ensemble cast is offered the chance to shine, with many tackling more than one role and shine they do, all of them meeting their tasks at hand with deft aplomb and vocal prowess. 

Which brings us to the things that might not have worked as well, though after pondering it for a couple of days… could it be that these are deliberate decisions made to force you to think a bit deeper about this particular theatrical outing?

Taking a sumptuously huge show like J&H and paring it down to fit into the intimacy of The Hayes, with a terrifying three-week rehearsal period no less, was always a big ask. Unfortunately, it seems, sometimes it doesn‘t quite work – or does it?

The setting of this production “entirely in a military mental hospital” might work in the production’s favour when it comes to explaining away some of the initially perceived misses. 

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The lines between different scene locations were less than crisp and costumes also seemed lacking in direction with little differentiation between parts for the actors playing more than one role, lending to the impression that the whole thing could have perhaps been a fever dream of the mental institution patients – it’s up to you to decide if you buy it.

The decision to strip the rich orchestral sound down to more of a chamber-music feel should be applauded because it works beautifully though as a final side note based on opening night – the musical directors might need to take some of their cast to task about placing and sustaining notes because occasionally it was noticeably hit or miss. 

You absolutely should see this interesting take on a classic and decide for yourself – was it good or evil? To be honest, it’s worth it even if you’re just going to hear the wondrous Georgina Hopson in such an intimate space – she is the star of this show!

Jekyll and Hyde The Musical is playing at the Hayes Theatre Company until August 27.

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