Photo by Tim Barden
With the addition of the new performing space The Addy at Proctors, there’s now room to do more intimate professional productions – a boon for the theatergoers of the Capital Region. Young Dr. Jekyll, the first professional theatrical production in the space, gives us a chance to see what might be ahead for us – and check out the new space as well.
Harry Jekyll (James Hunsaker), desperate to become the youngest member of the Royal Society of Scientific Minds, is sent to the island of Bu Bu to make a name for himself. He believes he’s found a way to boost intelligence, and comes home to finalize his work, moving in with his brother, Arthur (Cameron Nies) and Arthur’s friend Charlie (Berkley Jones), a young woman disguised as a man order to attend medical school. Various roadblocks pop up, and Harry begins to worry that, like his father, he may be losing his mind.
The young actors in the production truly shine. Hunsaker, who’s been with the production through its many iterations, does fine work as Harry; he has a strong voice, a commanding stage presence and shows off his impressive dancing talents in “Side Effects.” Nies makes for a very likeable Arthur; he has palpable chemistry with Jones and his comedic timing is on point. Jones has the doe eyes of a Disney princess and the charm to match; she is all light and joy, especially in “I Can Can” and “How You Woo.” Chris Isolano, as Mr. Folsom, the landlord, and Meghan Deeley, as Brigitte, a French singer, both are strong in their roles as well.
The show itself – although still a workshop production, so it may change considerably before it’s seen at its next venue – has some issues. First, other than the name, there is utterly no connection to the Dr. Jekyll story. Perhaps their institutionalized father is supposed to be the legendary Dr. Jekyll? Or is this a prequel, showing Dr. Jekyll before he does the experiment that frees Mr. Hyde? It’s never made clear.
The songs, of which there are far too many, are overall quite weak and repetitive, with childish rhyme schemes. The story itself is extremely crowded and muddled. There are six or more plots going on at the same time – Harry’s experiment, Charlie’s feminism and groundbreaking college attendance, Arthur and Harry’s sibling rivalry, the landlord wanting to go to France, and many more – it’s just too much. It’s a show that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be or how to get where it needs to go.
I do, however, give kudos to Proctors for bringing in a new musical and giving it space for workshopping, and therefore giving us the chance to see it. I love the new space and love that Schenectady High School students were working on all aspects of tech for the show. The innovations in our area for theater are never-ending, and for those of us that love theater, it’s a world of constant delight.
“Young Dr. Jekyll”; The Addy at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady; through June 16; $30; Run time: 2 hours; (518) 346-6204; http://www.proctors.org/