Alhambra Theatre & Dining Dual Critics Review
The Alhambra Theatre, Jacksonville’s only dinner theatre, opened “Jekyll & Hyde” on October 23, 2019, which runs through November 24, 2019. The theatre is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit alhambrajax.com or call 904-641-1212 for reservations.
The musical is based on a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1886. Book and lyrics are by Leslie Bricusse, with music by Frank Wildhorn. This mesmerizing production of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ is directed by Alhambra’s Tod Booth, who directed the same show on this stage eighteen years ago.
Dr. Henry Jekyll is a man of science with a mission: To prove that the evil side of man’s attributes can be separated and removed, leaving only the good. He has developed a serum which he is certain will support his thesis if ingested, but he needs a test subject. He is angry and disappointed when the board of the local mental hospital refuses to provide an inmate for his proposed experiment. He is certain his reasoning is correct, and determined to prove it, decides he will make himself the test subject. And by subjecting himself to his experiments, he risks losing everything: his friends, his fiancée, and perhaps even his sanity.
Jekyll has two women in his life: Emma (Traci Bair) his lovely upper-class fiancée, and Lucy (Jessie Booth), an alluring prostitute. Both have fantastic voices which are especially moving in the duet “In His Eyes.” Ms. Booth made her first stage appearance on this stage as a child; she currently lives in New York.
Justin Murphy gives an extraordinary performance as Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde, changing identities from the well-meaning scientist to his murderous alter ego before our eyes. His voice soars with every song; we found “This is the Moment” and “Alive” outstanding. He was last seen on the Alhambra’s stage ten years ago in the demanding role of Jesus in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Gary Marachek portrays Hyde’s best friend John Utterson, who is supportive of his efforts, but also advises caution. He is a New York based actor, with an extensive resume, which includes many Alhambra appearances. Kurt McCall, an Alhambra regular, is believable as Sir Danvers Carew, Emma’s concerned father.
Rounding out the cast were David Diehl (Simon Stride), Patti Emler (Lady Beaconsfield), Alec Hadden (Bishop of Basingstoke), Andrew LeJeune (Lord Savage), and Kenneth Uibel (General Lord Glossop). Ensemble members included Katie Nettle, Cat Brindisi, Leland Pettis, Carley Levy, Lee Hamby, and Erin Leigh Knowles.
The Alhambra’s production is fantastic. The scene design by Dave Dionne and Ian Black, with lighting by Daniel Dungan, provides an atmospheric Victorian background. The music is stunning and at times tantalizing: Cathy Murphy Giddens was the musical director; Eric Sullivan was the sound designer. The choreography by Shain Stroff and superb costumes by Camala Pitts and Dorinda Quiles will hold your attention throughout the evening.
And although the story is chilling at times, the Alhambra’s performance should not be missed. It is an unforgettable tale of a man’s fatal choice and descent into darkness.
Coming up: “Elf, The Musical,” this year’s holiday show (November 27 – December 24) is very popular and has reportedly been sold out since August. Next year’s lineup features some of the top musicals of all time, which include “Singing in the Rain,” “The Music Man,” and “Cinderella.” They also will continue to offer After Dark Shows which include tribute performances, gourmet meals and free parking, a bargain at less than $70.00 a ticket.