Out of the Darkness

Post-production review of performing in DMT’s production of Jekyll & Hyde.

Feature photo of Spider and some of the Prostitutes from the Red Rat

Show week is always an intense experience, which is usually a mixture of emotions, adrenalin and endurance.  The people around you are so important in making that experience not only bearable but fun as well.  I have to take my show hat off to Devizes Musical Theatre (DMT) for the way things went.

Organisation What director Matt Dauncey did along with MD Susan Braunton and the production team was to organise everything in advance so that all the players knew what they were doing. We were properly prepared before the dress rehearsal and just had to adjust to wearing costumes and having an orchestra.

Performance Buzz The other vital ingredient that was needed was energy.  The directors encouraged us, and the performers were supportive of each other. That meant we were halfway there. The other half of the energy came from the large audiences that attended and brought fresh eyes and reactions to each performance.

Results Having gone through a tech rehearsal and two dress rehearsals (one for each lead actor playing Jekyll/Hyde) the performances went without any major hitches.  The energy didn’t let up either.  By the end, we were still improving and the leads managed to avoid burn-out.

Memorable Moments 1) In one scene, Emma (played by Naomi Ibbetson) managed to call Jekyll ‘Herry’, which is the name of her real-life husband!  Luckily the performers got through the scene without making the moment awkward.

2) Lord Savage has a line before he dies where he informs Sir Danvers of his next move.  In the script it is “Aberdeen actually, I’ll been in the Highland club if you need me”. Each night Phil Greenaway came up with a different place and club name.  His fictional tour took him to Bristol, Derby, Cardiff, Salisbury and a Yorkshire village where one of the cast members lives.

3) The Red Rat is the Brothel stage set where Jekyll (and later Hyde) spends time with Lucy Harris the prostitute.  During the number, ‘Bring on the Men’, several prostitutes dance whilst potential male clients gawk and make dirty comments before being joined by the dancers.  Over the course of the evenings, one particular group upped the acting pretty much every night.  By Saturday, I dare say the advisory 14+ age range restriction was well earned!

Chorus Activity It was a delight to be in the chorus for this show.  Although the musical is mainly focussed on the three leading roles, there is still a surprising amount to do. Façade and Murder, Murder are very good company numbers.  Bring on the Men, the Engagement Party scene and the Wedding provides the chorus with actions and dance routines.  There are also three or four off-stage choruses which are a demanding sing and add to the atmosphere for Jekyll and Lucy’s onstage struggles.

Conclusion With such a welcoming group this was a rare treat.  The comradery offstage was matched by the dedication on it.  What’s even more surprisingly is that whenever someone wasn’t required onstage, they still turned up to rehearsals, including the leads. This commitment continued until the end; Jekyll #2 (Andrew Curtis) performed in the Saturday matinee which allowed Jekyll#1 (Gareth Lloyd) to take a much-deserved rest, but he still stayed to watch the show. Jekyll #2 only had the one show, but Andrew was fully involved throughout the run, not only as understudy, but as the Priest in Act 2 each night and as a backstage helper.

I’ll miss the positive atmosphere that brought the group together.  It gave the week momentum and kept the energy up.  I’ll certainly be interested to see what shows DMT do next.