17 – 21 May 2016
Stage Director – Barry Austin
Musical Director – Richard Abrams
Chorus Mistress – Stephanie Walsh
Production Assistant – Rachel Wright
Gabriel John Utterson – Andrew Richardson
Sir Danvers Carew – Selwyn Morgan
Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde – David Emms
Simon Stride – Jonathan Baron
Lady Beaconsfield – Kate Crow
The Bishop of Basingstoke – Mike Viret
Lord Savage – Paul de Boer
General Lord Glossop – Chris Coleman
Sir Archibald Proops – Iain Hicken
Emma Carew – Becci Smith
Lucy Harris – Sarah Kilmister
Nellie – Rachel Wright
Spider – Simon Roberts
Poole – Paul Springate
Bissett – Ryan Walters
Aileen Anderson, Peter Bartlett, Rachael Bartlett, Caroline Brookes-Fischer, Helen Colledge, Geoff Cox, Katherine Dipple, Catherine Edmond, Grace Hawker, Ailsa Kennedy Ballard, Tom Mullins, Belinda Ogle-Skan, Fiona Paterson, Gemma Pearson, Sue Roffe, Molly Skuse, Lisa Smith, Liz Souter, Karen Spriggs, Nicole Wallace, Natasha Webb.
Last night, I had the pleasure of watching Cirencester Operatic Society’s production of Jekyll & Hyde at the newly refurbished Barn Theatre in Cirencester. Usually, when attending opening night of an amateur show, I would expect slight hiccups or teething issues with certain aspects and these can certainly be forgiven. However, with Jekyll & Hyde, there were none! Although it has to be said that there was nothing, whatsoever that was amateur about this show. The standard of singing from the principal characters, combined with the costumes, clever set and excellent orchestra made for an amazing production.
The technical aspects of this show (which are very challenging) were executed well. The sound was clear and of a high quality although I would have liked the characters of Jekyll and Emma to have been a bit louder at times, especially when they were singing in ensemble numbers. The set was very cleverly done, allowing for the different scenes with minimal change and also minimal space so as to allow for the large chorus. I particularly liked the use of lighting inside the columns to portray the two characters of Jekyll and Hyde. The lighting in general was fairly unusual for the production but actually, I liked this very much as it added another dimension to the production. The only comment I would make is that at times, it was a little difficult to see expressions on some of the principal’s faces especially if they were further back on the stage.
The orchestra, led by Musical Director Richard Abrams were excellent throughout and the cast seemed to be able to see him clearly on the screens. I particularly liked that you could see the band in the pit, without them being at all intrusive as it added another dimension to the performance.
The large, capable chorus worked really well in this show. The clever direction from Director, Barry Austin meant that the large numbers on stage worked really well, which is not always the case. There was a fullness to the sound which was particularly effective in Façade. The contrast between the rich and poor characters were clear through not only the excellent costumes but also through the characterisation of each individual which is not always a given and was most definitely noticed! The only comment I would make is that some of the chorus members didn’t always know their words which was distracting at times. The small male ensemble were particularly good with singing of a very high standard.
All of the principal characters in Jekyll and Hyde were excellent. There were no weak links. The role of Emma (played by Becci Smith) was sung beautifully with a sweet, youthful tone and the relationship between her and her father, Sir Danvers (played by Selwyn Morgan) was portrayed in a very natural way.
I feel that a couple of the smaller principal roles need a particular mention. The characters of Nellie (played by Rachel Wright) and Spider (played by Simon Roberts) both were very convincing, had great stage presence and worked really well as a ‘double act’. Their performances were somewhat reminiscent of Bill and Nancy in Oliver.
For me though there were two characters who absolutely stole the show. Firstly, Lucy (played by Sarah Kilminster) was played very well with outstanding singing and brilliant characterisation. She commanded the stage at all times and the contrast between her confident and vulnerable sides came across well both in her singing and acting. A very emotive performance.
Last but by no means least, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (played by David Emms). I have very few words, which is strange for me as I’m usually full of them! It was a breath taking performance with a very obvious contrast between gentle Jekyll and evil Hyde. He managed to change every single aspect of his character seamlessly between the two parts and was actually pretty scary as Hyde! The singing was absolutely faultless and the performance as a whole was without a doubt, one of the best I’ve seen.
It is rare in amateur theatre for so many aspects of a show to be of such a high standard. I thoroughly enjoyed it and every single member of the cast, crew and production team should be incredibly proud.