I am in love and this is the object of my affection~~~~~~~~~~~
Jekyll and Hyde is an old story, one of the prescribed readings this semester but I read it last semester to do a comparison with Frankenstein. Lately, I Youtubed J&H because the lecturer was showing us the various transformations of Jekyll to Hyde and they were all the same: choking, gasping, the final transformation into this ape-looking grinning person with the big crooked teeth. And I was like “I’m sure there has to be a version where Hyde doesn’t look that bad.” I didn’t expect to find this version because while there were versions where Caliban was the hot one in plays like Tempest, the idea of appearance and inner character was the theme in J&H.
What Youtube threw up was even better than discovering a hot Hyde. I discovered J&H the musical ❤ ❤ ❤
I had to skim through it because I was supposed to be writing an essay on it and then I got…sidetracked… and stuff… but I liked what I skimmed. And that says a lot. Because I read that by a certain age, people’s musical influences kind of just cement and they aren’t as open to new influences anymore. But I was so into this, the music, it’s amazing. To find something new that I like so strongly. Perhaps it was because the music sounded very much like the music I already liked, typical Les Mis, Phantom stuff, but still.
Well, I have to admit that I’m a softie for anything with the large Victorian dresses and sets and speech. They adapted the story for the stage though, and I completely understand. You couldn’t possibly do a direct word-for-word from book to stage. Too much inner psyche. Can you imagine the soliloquies Jekyll would have had to do?
So while the focus of the story was still on appearances and characters, reputations and facades, there was a new element in the story: the love element. Don’t call me sappy just yet. At first, I was skeptical. I thought that love elements would weaken this story. After all, the fact that there was no prominent woman figure in the book was one of those glaring factors that might fuel literary essays. But it worked out very well, I think. For one thing, some of my favourite songs came from the love duets and the ballads. Having the love interests added this emotional, sentimental element into the story and songs that couldn’t otherwise have been achieved. It made Jekyll seem like he had a social life, that he cared for people besides himself.
In fact, there were two love interests in the story, which actually worked. There was Emma Carew, Jekyll’s very upperclass fiancee who completely understands Jekyll’s obsession with work and strives to be the supporting partner in his scientific endeavours, even when he becomes very MIA towards the middle of the play.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one waiting for her to confront Jekyll in a “It’s me or your work. Choose!” moment which never happened. At first, I thought she was really too good to be true. But her devotion to Jekyll wasn’t flippant or annoying as she continually proved to Jekyll throughout the play. She always came to soothe and to love and to wait and to defend against the Jekyll skeptics. And if you thought it was her being goody-goody and the “perfect” milk-and-water lover waiting in the wings, you couldn’t be more wrong. She had to stand up against societal pressures that were all around, people saying that Jekyll was crazy, people saying that she was making the wrong decision in wanting to marry him. Even worse, she had to defend Jekyll without knowing what was going on with him. It wouldn’t be as bad if she actually knew his reasons for being so MIA but she didn’t and she had to go on not knowing, just trusting that Jekyll knew what he was doing and waiting for him. Amazing woman.
I thought that she was too good for Jekyll later on, and that Jekyll didn’t appreciate her as much and didn’t deserve her but then whenever she came on, he really seemed to be pulled back out of his abyss and remember their love. The romantic in me is melting.
The second love interest was the prostitute from “The Red Rat”, Lucy Harris, who kind of falls in love with Jekyll because he talks to her and treats her as a friend, makes her feel like a lady.
I think Lucy was the more popular love interest for the audience and everyone was shipping them together. She’s bubbly and adorable and reminiscent of the lower class Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. The typical class-crossed lovers story is just so attractive and I really did like the vibes they shared. Loved the songs in their scene. Almost Eponine from Les Mis.
So this version was the David Hasselhoff, Andrea Rivette, Coleen Sexton one.
The first thought I had when I saw David Hasselhoff was that this dude is too physically big to be playing the good doctor. The second was that he looked like Kris Phillips who I did adore after watching his concert with Elaine Paige in Beijing on DVD.
I’m not familiar with Hasselhoff’s work (he is an actor, apparently?) but I could definitely see the effort he put into this. I liked some scenes more than others but I felt really bad for him having to play the difficult role of being both Jekyll and Hyde at once in “Confrontation” and his Hyde in “Dangerous Game” was…goose bumpy. Shudder. I liked him as Jekyll, not so much as Hyde. In case you were curious, the only physical transformation they could afford on stage was the change in hairstyle. Jekyll has his hair in a ponytail and Hyde lets them hang in stringy locks over his face. I thought it was a funny, cheap trick but an effective one at that.
Andrea Rivette played Emma Carew and she really grew onto me throughout the play. I especially loved her line to Lady Beaconsfield.
Oo burn. Loved it. Loved all her little expressions done in that first scene with Jekyll too. All the nuances done so gracefully. I felt that Hasselhoff blew it a little with his delivery and his awkward kissing of her hand. Such a waste when she was so natural.
Coleen Sexton played Lucy Harris and she had the best songs, I think. She had all the hopeful Eponine kind of ballads and one she sang at “The Red Rat” called “Good and Evil” which was pretty interesting. I liked the “No One Knows Who I Am” one, all the haunting chromatics, tinkly music box like. That’s probably why I liked “Sympathy, Tenderness” as well. Lucy Harris seemed kind of made up to look like Christine Daae, especially for “Dangerous Game”, that was such a “Past the Point of No Return” moment.
When Jekyll comes in and Emma sings the last line of her song “I’m complete”, that glowing smile on her face and the expression on his which looks like “Aww Emma, you shouldn’t have.”
The song that follows “I Must Go On” I rather liked, a bit of a badass vibe, and then their duet “Take Me as I Am” a little on the generic side but still works.
I loved the entire scene from when Lucy drops by Jekyll’s house. Here watch it. I insist. Start from about 3.03.
I love Lucy’s reaction at Jekyll’s house. I loved the awkward, stilted everything of Jekyll especially after Lucy reveals that it was someone called Hyde who had hurt her. “Sympathy, Tenderness” I liked because of its haunting melody, very “Castle on a Cloud”. I liked the lines about Lucy being a lady and oh my goodness I absolutely loved the kiss they shared at the end of that song because he was in half a daze when she took his hand to kiss.
So innocent like. Then he actually reached down to kiss her and she was like “world peace” expression, before they both went back to begin awkward which I thought was adorable. I only liked the chorus of “Someone Like You” which followed that scene but the verse was super generic. The lyrics about hearts being set free and flying because of the power of love…ah, give me a break. That was a little disappointing. Only liked the chorus.
Although I can’t remember the song now, I remembered I liked the scene where Emma came to Jekyll to find out what was going on and she sang “Once Upon a Dream”. I think I liked how Jekyll seemed to recall himself and just cling onto Emma. Isn’t the Sleeping Beauty song also called “Once Upon a Dream” though? Hmm.
I missed most of the ensemble songs and soliloquies but from the snatches I caught, “Murder, Murder” sounded very exciting, something I might appreciate if I had time.
Most cringeworthy moments…definitely Jekyll’s transformation. His yelling and fits were painful to watch. “Dangerous Game” was uncomfortable. The reprise of “Sympathy, Tenderness” killed me. I couldn’t quite appreciate “In His Eyes” so much, maybe because Coleen and Andrea’s tones were too different to match. I’m guessing it was suppose to be a really climatic, romantic “I Know Him So Well” kind of song but I couldn’t get it. Perhaps because Jekyll wasn’t that great for me in the play.
I shan’t go on anymore about the ending. I realized some people don’t know this story and if I spoiled it for you, I’m so sorry, it’s one of those things you can’t “un-see” so to speak. I’ve never approached the text without knowing the ending so it’s quite novel for me to have friends who were truly surprised at the end. Well, it wouldn’t be a twist if you watched the stage one first. The twist is only in the book because of how it’s written (Lit mode on).
Anyhow, I don’t suppose a musical which has me using so many other musical references is considered “original” or “good” but I’m no expert and I’m only saying I sincerely appreciate and enjoyed the music and the plot elements used to adapt the story to the stage.
Having said that, I found an extremely hilarious review of the same version of J&H at http://bookelfe.livejournal.com/183520.html. Although it made me feel a bit of an idiot for liking the musical, it was too funny to pass up. Literally Lol-ed at it.
Yessss, I know this was messy. Fangirling has that effect. Give me some time to get the writing groove back. It’s been a while. If anything, J&H has brought on a bit of the Musical Theatre fever again.
Why am I still not on the stage?