DOMA Theater Company brings an extraordinary level of professionalism and excitement to its production of Jekyll And Hyde: The Musical, now playing at the Met Theater. The economical staging is inventive and wildly effective, the supporting company is first-rate as usual, the principals are all extremely capable singers, and Chris Kerrigan brings a truly unhinged quality to his portrayal of the dual personalities in the title role. This company shows an attention to detail and a flair for big gestures that are too rarely seen in a 99-seat hall. As they proved in their surprisingly agile production of The Who’s Tommy earlier this season, this is a troupe that’s not afraid to aim high.
The stellar cast and creative team does its best to elevate the work itself, adapted by lyricist Leslie Bricusse and composer Frank Wildhorn from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. There are a few truly effective songs among the bunch, my favorite being the bawdy bachelor-party theme “Bring On The Men,” performed with gusto by Cassandra Nuss and a company of convincingly dirty dancers. And Kerrigan’s star turn in “Alive”, celebrating Hyde’s newfound amoral freedom, is performed with such intensity that it starts to resemble Iago’s “I Believe In A Cruel God” manifesto from Otello. In these sections, where the cast has something juicy to work with, it’s a truly impressive sight.
But too much of the story line is carried by sing-songy, unmelodic dialogue. The constant re-use of sketchy melodic ideas, with little variation in style, ultimately has the effect of a rock band trying to stretch an EP’s worth of material into a double album. The show’s authors might have been better off allowing a few more minutes of spoken word; besides giving the audience the occasional ear break, the could have spared themselves from the need to constantly recycle a small handful of melodic ideas.
Nevertheless, when the show works, it works extremely well. Nuss, in superb form as the prostitute Lucy, and Benai Boyd as the madam, share a poignant moment in “Ladies Of The Night.” Amber Gildersleeve’s vocal performances on “In His Eyes” and “Letting Go” are warm and beautifully rendered. And every scene where Kerrigan gets to throw his shoulders back, widen his eyes and appear to become ten feet tall for the Hyde character is edge-of-seat gripping. These moments are memorable enough to make this a recommendable show despite the unfortunate musical padding.
Discount tickets available from Goldstar