Review: Jekyll & Hyde at The Grand Opera House, Belfast
This is a show that amateur companies rarely tackle.
However, while availability of performance rights may be an issue at times, the real reason is because most amateur groups could not do the show justice, as this show needs three exceptional principal performers, a big orchestra and an ensemble of strong singers.
So, full marks to this East-Belfast company not only for having the courage to take the financial risk of staging this epic piece of musical drama but also for ticking all of the required boxes to deliver such a high quality production.
For the dual title role of both Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde – perhaps one of musical theatre’s most challenging and torturous roles – the company was lucky to have secured the services of someone as talented as Karl McGuckin, who is probably the only local performer capable of playing these roles with such passion, commitment and vocal accuracy.
This was a theatrical tour-de-force offering a show-stopping rendition of the show’s best-known song, This Is The Moment … and this was definitely another memorable moment of theatre from this great performer.
Many people watching this show would say that, with stand-out performances of songs like Good’n’Evil and Someone Like You from Emma Martin, as the perfectly vulnerable Lucy, that they had witnessed a star being born here. However, I totally disagree, for in my opinion this young stage star was born when she first took to performing and she just shines brighter and brighter with each successive role she takes on.
At only 18 years of age, this young lady again turned in a breath-taking and dramatic performance and could teach some professional performers how to act in song. For me, it is not a case of ‘if’ Emma Martin makes it in the West End, but rather ‘when’ she makes it there!
As the other lady in the principal line-up, Alice Johnston’s excellent Emma Carew was a very well-controlled and experienced performance boasting a very moving and memorable duet with Emma Martin in the song, In His Eyes.
Without exception, every department played a big part in making this show sparkle with quality … respect to the main creative team of Director, Wilfie Pyper, Musical Director, Colin Scott, and Choreographer, Timmy Bell.
I was particularly glad to see that the transformation scene did not rely on a gimmick approach but rather succeeded for its relative simplicity and natural execution.
Having attended four productions of this show – both amateur and professional – an amateur version like this can be better than a professional one as they have the manpower to populate the crowd scenes in a more realistic manner than a smaller professional cast and, with a company of strong singers here, everyone played their part in the success of this production. – Don’t miss it!
Jekyll & Hyde
Belfast Operatic Company
Grand Opera House – Tue 4-Sat 8 April