Musical theatre thrives with ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ production

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Good verses evil serves as a classic struggle in drama, and that clash develops differently in the novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; the musical version now playing, this weekend only, at The Culture House inside Oak Park Mall.

Good and evil in one body? Yes. A kindly medical doctor believes he has found a potion that will eventually rid people of evil and can change the world. But, after Dr. Jekyll gets no respect or backing from constituents, he tests his potion on himself. The audience sees good doctor Henry Jekyll transform into the evil Edward Hyde after just one swig of his elixir.

After just one dose, Dr. Jekyll disappears as the malicious Edward Hyde appears from the depths of Jekyll’s soul. The two characters, sharing one body, engage in a monumental struggle as Mr. Hyde’s vicious revenge terrorizes London. Two men sharing the same body and mind connect not only in the two opposing characterizations, but in the same mind. Jekyll’s defeat among colleagues manifests in Hyde’s killing spree of the persons who dishonored Jekyll’s experiment.

One character with alternate personas allows for two love interests, one for each man. Emma, loving and kind chooses to marry Henry Jekyll while Lucy, a down and out kind-hearted prostitute, attracts the affection of Edward Hyde.

“The epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage in the musical phenomenon, “Jekyll & Hyde.” Based on the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson and featuring a thrilling score of pop rock hits from multi-Grammy- and Tony-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double-Oscar- and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse, “Jekyll & Hyde” has mesmerized audiences the world over,” Culture House said of the show.

“A devoted man of science, Dr. Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve some of mankind’s most challenging medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers that be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr. Hyde,” a press release said.

For The Culture House’s version of “Jekyll & Hyde,” the cast takes the audience into the darkness of evil fighting for control of the good doctor’s mind. By far, Edward Hyde’s character controls the action and commits the gruesome murders. Matt Richardson performs the role with a strong portrayal of the dual personality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Richardson gives each persona a different voice and posture so the audience follows the transformation with ease. His voice as Edward Hyde sounds creepy and evil. A dream role for an actor/singer, Richardson approached the role with understanding and knowledge of one of the most complex musical theatre characters. Richardson said the role was his dream roles. Now, for viewers to see his depth of character development and hear his strong, resonate vocal performance to match his acting.

As the two love interests, Kelsie Clark Massey (Lucy Harris), Brooke Calderone (Emma Carew) gave beautiful renditions of their characters’ vocal pieces. Each lady created honest, likeable characters. Along with their character delivery, their singing matched beautifully with Richardson’s vocals. The audience identifies with both characters, knowing that their fates are the crux of the love story. Massey portrays Lucy, a prostitute with a heart of gold, as Calderone plays Emma, a sweet, innocent fiancé to Dr. Henry Jekyll. Both see their hopes disappear in the climax of the story. Both actors add the love and drama to the story.

The entire cast was well-fit and talented. Three that stood out in smaller parts were Kaleb Clemmons as John Utterson, Kathleen Marx as Lady Beaconsfield, and Christoph Cording as Spider. The script does not allow for many actors to stand out in their characters, so actors must develop and maintain a stage presence to draw the audience attention.

Hats off to the production team that put “Jekyll & Hyde together. The casting, props, costumes, staging, lighting, and sound all worked to create a memorable show. The behind the scenes team makes the show that the audience sees more outstanding.

“Jekyll & Hyde” Cast: Matt Richardson (Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde), Kelsie Clark Massey (Lucy Harris), Brooke Calderone (Emma Carew), Kaleb Clemmons (John Utterson), Nick Perry (Simon Stride), Marshall Lovelace (Sir Danvers Carew), Victor Castillo (Sir Archibald Proops), Bryce Stallons (Lord Savage), James Azeltine (The Bishop of Basingstoke/Mr. Bisset), John Van De Voort (General Lord Glossop) Kathleen Marx (Lady Beaconsfield), Will Gurley (Poole), Valerie Knott (Nellie), Christoph Cording (Spider), Julia Condon (Lady), Deborah Keys (Lady), Austyn Sander (Lady), Chuck Chambers (Gentlemen), Miles Wirth (Gentleman/pimp), Elaine Clifford (Red Rat Girl), Jessica Holcombe (Red Rat Girl), Tressa Lee (Red Rat Girl), Ashley McGuire (Red Rat Girl), Jessica Michael (Red Rat Girl), Michaela Sewalson (Red Rat Girl), Noah Hart (Newsboy) and Kailey Wilson (Teen Girl).

“Jekyll & Hyde” Production Team: Amy LaGrone Sander (Summer Broadway Theatre Director and TCH General Manager & Producer), Jackson Thomas (Music Director), Amy LaGrone Sander (Choreographer) and Tracy Miller (Stage Manager). Costumes, sets and props were designed by Amy LaGrone Sander; Light Design, Nick Perry & Amy LaGrone Sander with assistance from Jeremiah Enna; Light Board Operator & Stage Manager, Tracy Miller; Sound Board Operator: Jerod Rivers; Sound Assistant: Sienna Wilting; Production Assistants: Mark Zemelman, Ginger Zemelman & Scotty Smith.

Tickets may be purchased for $14 in advance and $17 at the door. https://culturehouse.getmytix.net/

About The Culture House:
The Culture House Summer Broadway Theatre Production Has Become a Kansas City Theatre Tradition! Pulling from Some of the Most Talented Performers in the City, We Have Been Able to Produce Incredible and Award-winning Productions for the past Five Years: “Les Miserables” at Yardley Hall – 2013, “Big River” at the Kauffman Center – 2014, {into the Woods} at Yardley Hall – 2015, “Big Fish” at the Kauffman Center – 2016, }Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Polsky Theater – 2017, the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” at Yardley Hall – 2018, “Once on this Island” at the Kauffman Center – 2019 … and Now “Jekyll & Hyde” for the Summer of 2021! We Are Excited to Bring this Hauntingly Beautiful Musical to the Culture House Stage & Studio (At Oak Park Mall) on July 15-18 & 22-25, 2021.

The Culture House is celebrating 25 years and is one of the most unique training and performance venues in the Kansas City area. With theatre, dance, vocal and instrumental music, and visual arts all under one roof, it is an experience one cannot miss.
Additionally, when you walk in the doors, you will find students from all over Kansas City and surrounding areas. With professional education and performance opportunities for ages 3 through adult, The Culture House is Kansas City’s premier arts conservatory.
For additional information, please call The Culture House at 913.393.3141 or visit us at www.culturehouse.com.

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