Modesto Performing Arts goes goth with its second stage production of the season.
Music, drama and horror combine in the classic tale of “Jekyll and Hyde The Musical” for MPA, beginning Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Gallo Center for the Arts, and running through Aug. 19.
Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” the gothic musical is a story of murder, as well as one of love.
“’The Sound of Music’ it is not,” said Paul Tischer, MPA founder and general director, who will direct the production and its 50-member cast.
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“The music is much more extensive and definitely much more dramatic,” he said. “The plot, for those who know the show from either the book or the movie, is also much more intense and dark. The theme of the story, evil vs good, is also not your usual musical fare. The audience will have an entirely different experience. But the show is thoroughly enjoyable.”
The story follows physician Dr. Jekyll as he works to cure his ailing father’s mental illness. Jekyll devises a way to separate good from evil in the human personality, but in doing so creates an alternate, wicked personality within himself, Mr. Hyde.
As Hyde goes through a murderous trek through London, Jekyll’s fiancée Emma grows increasingly fearful. Meanwhile a prostitute named Lucy finds herself involved with the doctor’s alter ego. Jekyll struggles to find a cure while also controlling Hyde before his evil side takes over his mind permanently.
This will be a first-time staging of “Jekyll and Hyde” for MPA. “It’s hard to find good shows that we have never done before,” Tischer said. “And I’ve loved this show ever since (Townsend Opera) did it 20 years ago. The music is gorgeous and the plot is not your usual musical comedy. The staging of the show is also a challenge because it is so different from the usual musical.”
The tale debuted as a Broadway musical in 1997 and played nearly four years at the Plymouth Theatre there. The show was nominated for four Tony Awards including best actor for Robert Cuccioli and best musical book for Leslie Bricusse. Music is by Frank Wildhorn with lyrics by Bricusse and Steven Cuden.
While there are twice the number of songs than the ordinary musical, Tischer said, “none is well known separately because the songs are so integrated into the plot of the show that you cannot take them out of context and sing them alone and make sense of them,” Tischer said.
The dual Jekyll/Hyde role will be played by MPA veteran Curt Nelson, who also has starred in the company’s past productions of “42nd Street” and “Man of La Mancha.” Jekyll’s love interest Emma will played by Christine Capsuto, in her MPA debut. Past MPA performers Larry Zabel and Carl Bengston play Gabriel John Utterson and Sir Danvers Carew, respectively, and others in the cast include Marty Cox, Dave Finley, Ray Leverett, March Ochinero and Krista Serpa.
John Armes provides musical direction for the production and conducts the production’s full orchestra; sets have been designed by Noble Dinse with costumes by Shannon Carmamackmize.
While the show is not suitable for young people, it will be unique for those who turn out, Tischer said. “The audience can expect a very different experience than your usual musical.”
“Jekyll and Hyde The Musical”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 and Friday-Saturday Aug. 17-18; 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 19
WHERE: Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
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