Jekyll and Hyde

Book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse; music by Frank Wildhorn
Sunderland Empire and touring
(2005)

One of the great joys of British theatre is the seemingly inexhaustible supply of skilled and talented performers. It's certainly true of music theatre: go to almost any professional production and you can be 99% guaranteed that you will see a cast well worth watching and listening to.

That's certainly the case with Jekyll and Hyde. Paul Nicholas plays the eponymous hero and villain and he handles the part with ease. He has a beautiful speaking voice - I really would like to see him tackle a Shakespeare speech some time: he has the voice for it - but I have to say that there is too much vibrato in his singing voice nowadays for my taste. Still, that's a minor criticism and, indeed, is probably personal to me. He is supported by two excellent female leads in Louise Dearman as Lucy Harris and Shona Lindsay as Lisa Carew. The latter has a very pure soprano voice and the former can sing both the lush romantic ballad and belt with the best of them.

The chorus, too, were excellent. Each one can sing a solo part and yet blend with the others when necessary. They act well and even as scene-shifters they are spot-on.

Indeed, the production values are high.

Such a shame, then, that the show does not measure up to the performance. The lyrics are rather trite and there are musical and even structural echoes from shows as diverse as Superstar, Les Mis, Oliver! and Miss Saigon. And when Lucy starts to sing "Once upon a dream" we are firmly in Disney country. It's not that it's a bad show: to be honest, the word that spings to mind is "ordinary". This cast deserved a better vehicle.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan