“Jekyll & Hyde”, Colchester Operatic Society – Mercury Theatre

“Jekyll & Hyde”, Colchester Operatic Society  – Mercury Theatre

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Photo: Sally Parkinson
This is a challenging musical for any society to produce but Colchester Operatic Society hit it straight on.  The show opened with a wonderful but almost empty set which offers through the progress of the show, a great opportunity to show the two levels of London life and the lighting throughout is superb.
From the start, you are aware that there is a darkness to this piece. Thomas Pleasant as Dr Henry Jekyll is a pleasure to watch, his performance is strong and allows us to see his dreams and needs with a great stage presence and a lovely singing voice – he holds the threads of the show together extremely well. Partnered opposite him, was Leanne Field as Emma Carew, she sang so beautifully and the pair worked extremely well in their dialogue and duets together. It was just a shame that so much of it was played upstage and to each other so that we could not see their faces a lot of the time.
However, the diamond of the show was the captivating Giulia Cipriani as Lucy Harris. She delivered several of the musical highlights of the show with an ease and maturity of performance that was well beyond her years and a talent that would grace any professional stage. Her rendition of ‘Someone like you’ was truly mesmerising.
The principal line-up, as is often the case with this society, was indeed a strong one with a few very well played individuals including Adam Duarte-Dias as Simon Stride and Graham Bowden as Sir Danvers Carew. I also particularly liked Sam Pilkington as Utterson who gave a good solid performance as Jekyll ‘s best friend and lawyer.  ChiChi Armstrong was also a very strong character as Spider – with her particular brand of nasty, she gave me quite a chill in some of her darker scenes.
By contrast, I did feel that Edward Hyde played by Olly Medlicott could have been far darker than he was. I felt he never really ‘let go’ with the murderous, depraved side of the character and he looked and sounded just too ‘nice’.  Played against such a strong performance from Thomas Pleasant, for me, it just didn’t work.
However, the mirror scenes and the staging of them was extremely clever and worked very well.  David Rutter’s direction gave some lovely little cameo placing which complemented the action and the chorus numbers were full on and vocally very strong.  The choreography by Amanda Powell flowed seamlessly with the action giving a good all round feel.
The orchestra under the baton of Geoff Osbourne sounded excellent and there were some very strong vocal soloists from the company which all added to the overall performance levels.
 If you have a night free I would strongly recommend you go and see this show as it offers so much more than you might expect and gives a great evenings entertainment.
Tickets are available from the Mercury Theatre Box Office. 01206 573948
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