February 27, 2005

The Epic Duet of Good and Evil

No, that isn't a typo. A few of us who have been known to try and pass for artsy types went to see the Longview Community Theater's latest production on Saturday night - Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical.

In most black-vs.-white narratives, be they epics or morality plays or something else, good and evil eventually clash in some spectacular and highly visible form. Sometimes there is an enormous battle involving hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Sometimes there is a showdown on a dusty street. On a smaller, but no less vital, scale sometimes we simply see a battle of the conscience. Rarely, however, does one witness good and evil embroiled in a sing-off.

I didn't crank out this review nearly as soon as I meant to, so I am forced to be fairly brief. This is the 4th production I have attended at the Longview Community Theater, and the 2nd musical, and I have decided that the production value and general quality of their musicals is undoubtedly higher than regular plays. The performers they find have a lot of vocal talent, and this goes a long way towards making up for the inevitable minor gripes one will have with the imperfections of theatrical productions in a town of limited artistic resources.

There are a number of other very definite strengths that I have pinpointed. LCT does very well with costuming, and their prop department does a fantastic job of coming up with just the right things. The lighting is largely excellent, as are the musicians in the orchestra pit. The singing I have already praised, but it would not hurt to do so again. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the building and the lack of a sound system make solos very difficult to hear at times over the roar of the orchestra. However, all of the numbers involving half a dozen to twenty+ people were phenomenal.

The acting varies widely, but the leads are always at least competent. In this case I was slightly disappointed at first due to the lack of any significant physical transformation between Jekyll and Hyde (the actor wore his long hair in a ponytail as Jekyll, and let it fall loose as Hyde). However, by the time I heard the song where Jekyll and Hyde sing alternating lines (as the lighting shifted appropriately) I was satisfied both that this was all they were reasonably able to do, and that the actor playing the part was doing a wonderfully convincing job of changing his voice, manner, and personality as rapidly as could possibly be necessary.

If I hadn't been to see The King and I, I might have tried to gripe about accents, but really there was nothing wrong with them. No one was blatantly Texan, and I ask for very little more than that. The attempts at being Oriental were just painful, the attempts at being British were not. The plot left a bit to be desired, and of course it deviated a good bit from the original work, but . . . I'm not quite sure how to put this:

The last five minutes or so scared the bejeezes out of me because it was tracking heavily in the direction of maudlin Victorian melodrama. The words of Lady Bracknell kept floating through my head: "a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality." However, they pulled out hard in the end, and I was ultimately satisfied.

Scholl and I, sitting next to each other, made a number of fun connections from Watson's Brit Lit II class during the course of the play. This was only right, considering that the man himself was sitting directly behind us. As the lights came up, we turned and explained one of the more humorous connections that had been made (related to a line from Frankenstein). He was amused.

All in all, yet another enjoyable evening wiled away at the Longview Community Theater, and I look forward with great anticipation to their upcoming production of The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Posted by Jared at February 27, 2005 02:49 AM | TrackBack