Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Three B Production, Jekyll & Hyde, Maumee, Ohio

Two more chances to see this excellent cast perform the musical Jekyll & Hyde at the Maumee Indoor Theater, 606 Conant St. in Maumee, today at 8 PM and tomorrow at 2:30 PM.

UPDATE: Show's over --I saw the final performance today. The following was written after opening night.

I was PROUD of my city's local talent --as my brother and wife from Indiana and my aunt and uncle from Savannah attended (she used to ride the train in to see Broadway shows frequently when she lived near NYC) --along with my 90-year-old mother and mother-in-law, 87. The grandmas were scandalized by the Red Rat Dancers, but we expected that. The whole idea of prostitution as a story feature is not something they could appreciate. And they probably couldn't hear too well, either.

It seemed faster-paced than some productions --I've seen 4 now (Croswell in Adrian, Waterville Playshop, Elmwood High School, and now Three B's.) This was a troupe of mature actors --I don't mean old, but experienced, with several theater and music grads and students with many theater credits to their names.

This show was outstanding in male vocals and acting talent throughout the whole cast, and a whole chorus of talented people really comfortable on the stage. I couldn't keep all the male characters straight --several tall, dark and handsome actors with beards were excellent vocalists/actors.

To mention a few, however:
Outstanding was Eric Hillenbrand as Sir Danvers Carew --who has sung with the Toledo Opera--and he was delightfully operatic, a commanding presence. Danvers plays the father of Jekyl's fiancee.

Rick Reed in his lead role was again exceptionally strong--amazing--reprising his role from Waterville Playshop's production 6 years ago. He has the "voice of an angel," my daughter says, and I agree.

John Carmack plays Utterson, Jekyll's attorney? He was the music director, and also a leading man talent, getting his Masters' in vocal performance and choral conducting.

Patrick Toth, a Springfield H.S. and Sienna Heights theater grad, played both Stride and Spider and showed off his exquisite theater diction and voice --he was heard clear as a bell whenever he spoke or sang.

Stephanie Heck was a great "Nellie" --the Madam of the Red Rat girls.

The lead girls, Joy Lemke as Lucy, and Kristen Basore as Emma, have a theater degree and vocal performance degree, respectively. Joy played Lucy, the happy hooker, very convincingly, and Emma was lovely as Emma, the fiancee of Dr. Jekyl.

The quartet with Emma, her father, Jekyll and Utterson --was beautiful.

The energy and professionalism in chorus numbers and choreography by Bob Marzola were very impressive for community theater. Too often, people with talent to be leads won't settle for chorus parts --and that makes for amateur aspects in shows. This show had a lot of talent willing to be faces in the crowd.

Damian Stout, as usual, was a genius at the keyboard, along with one or two ladies, very effective and never drowning out vocals.

On the whole, the choreography, strong acting, characterization, and overall professionalism made this a truly excellent production, directed by the very effective Joe Barton --perhaps elegible for awards. I saw Joe's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Waterville Playshop (with Joy Lemke as narrator)--a real step up from Waterville's former productions --and the same for Les Miserables, directed by Joe at Springfield H.S.

The story is one worth telling --about a highly idealistic scientist/physician whose experiments with drugs bring out the worst in him and lead him and others to ruin --about the love and tolerance of a loyal sweetheart --about the longing in the soul of a prostitute for a better, wholesome life with the love of a wholesome man. It's about hypocrisy, also, with the members of the hospital board and the church being fakes in their regard for God's concerns. It's a dark story, compared to most musicals --and based on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson --who didn't even get a mention in the program!!!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


Barb said...

Joe Barton and Jane Romey: I was asked to edit my review by someone dear to me --who does not want me, as self-appointed theater critic, to prevent her from getting roles in community theater and in so doing I inadvertently lost your comments when I put the original blog in "draft" format.

Thanks for responding to the review.

I did want you to know, Mrs. Romey, that I, too, have a daughter --in fact, two daughters, who enjoy performing and directing musical theater, and I wasn't suggesting that Jekyll and Hyde could ever be a Disney-esque production in my cautions about community sensibilities. After all, my one daughter directed high school students in this show and played the Lucy role herself elsewhere--and I was very pleased with both--so I certainly would not disagree with your view that young people can learn from --and depict both good and bad characters --in shows with dark themes.

Also, I didn't say THIS show did
"glorify lust and immorality" as I believe you misunderstood me to say.

I said I was more tolerant of depictions of murder (obviously fake) than of any real onstage molesting (groping that finds its mark! with youngsters in the cast or the audience) --or of any glorification of lust and immorality ---any theme that would make evil look good --or is designed to be "in your face" to the audience --intending to offend the sensibilities of moral folks.

This show doesn't do that in the end --in that the prostitute and the drug addict both come to sad ends. However, there is a careful line for community and school theaters when they do treat evil with comedy and entertainment as almost all Broadway does!

E.G. "I'm just a Girl who Cain't Say NO!" Ado Annie's song in Oklahoma is a humorous treatment of a serious problem! One of my two musical theater daughters sang that in high school and in Chicago community theater (Elgin College's Encore Theater) without, as you said, inclining her to make similarly unhealthy choices.

It's a theater parent's challenge and a director/teacher's challenge to perform these programs that almost always teach something good --including history--while making light of sin! when, in real life, there's rarely anything funny about moral weakness or its consequences.

Barb said...

As I recall, Joe, you said you were entirely pleased with your cast and show from top to bottom --and I agree that it was a production to make a director proud. I hope you saw that in my unedited version--even though I did some nit-picking, now edited out.