Jekyll and Hyde

Personally I feel that the musical Jekyll and Hyde has such a powerful message that it is primarily meant to probe the human condition and cause the audience to think, rather than to entertain or provide an escape. However, if something is not entertaining enough it will not have an audience; and without an audience, there is no one to give the message to.

As stated previously, I don’t believe that the musicals primary goal was to entertain the audience, although it most certainly did. I want to make note that many of the more entertaining moments took place near the beginning of the musical. I believe this is because as we made our way deeper into the plot, the tone of the musical became more serious, driving the moral issues deeper and more permanently into the audiences minds.

Two moment’s I found particularly entertaining took place at Ms. Carew and Dr. Jekyll’s engagement party. Ms. Carew make’s a sarcastic comment towards Lady Beaconsfield, saying that, “Comments on style should never be made by those who have none.” This is in response to Lady Beaconsfield’s comment on how it is not fashionable for one to be late to their own engagement party, referring to Dr. Jekyll’s tardiness. Later that same evening, after Dr. Jekyll has finally arrived, there is a comical exchange made between the couple. Dr. Jekyll jokingly says that he tries not to miss any social gathering that Lady Beaconsfield is attending, and then asks if

Ms. Carew knows if there is a Mr. Beaconsfield. Ms. Carew plays a long and tells him that there is no longer a Mr. Beaconsfield, for he died 30 years prior. Dr. Jekyll declares him to have been a sensible fellow.

Moments such as the ones I have described allow us to see into the personalities of the characters, making them more realistic to the audience, and there for easier to relate to and connect with. I believe that this ability to connect with the characters as realistic human beings is one of the ways a production can be entertaining.

Another element of the musical that I felt was particularly entertaining was the music. While many of the songs had deep messages that often hit on some element of the human condition they were also very entertaining because they were so captivating. You couldn’t help but listen and watch as the actors and actresses sang about pain, sadness, selfishness, etc. One song in particular that I think is particularly captivating is the song “This Is the Moment.” While Dr. Jekyll may not have made the right decision when he sings this song, choosing to experiment on himself and not thinking of how his actions might effect others, you can not help but see where he is coming from and also be filled with the same sense of determination and excitement that he is feeling.

Their was so much in this show that probed the human condition. With in the first thirty minutes I had picked out at least six things. Since the goal is not to write an entire paper on how this show probed the human condition I’m just going to go over the points that stuck out to me the most.

First of, there’s this song they sing called “Façade” and the whole thing is great, but there are two lines in particular that stood out to me. One says, “Each man you meet on the street isn’t one man, but two.” The song talks about all the ways people lie about who they are, what they want, and why they do what they do. The other line that stood out to me says, “There are preachers who kill, there are killers who preach. There are teachers who lie, there are liars who teach. Take yer pick dear, ’cause it’s all a façade!” The song really makes you think about the people you know, and yourself. Who are you? Who are those you call your friends? Are you putting on the mask society has deemed you should wear in order to appease others?

Another line that stuck out to me is a line said my Dr. Jekyll during the scene in which he is proposing his experiment to the Hospital Board of Governors. He says, “The only thing constant is change.” This one line triggered my brain to recall the last few months in which I’ve been at school, and all of the change that had occurred in that short span of time. Then I was thinking about the past year, and then I thought even further back to my high school graduation which took place nearly two years ago, and I realized that I am no where near the same person I was when I graduated from high school, and I expect that in some ways I wont be the same person I am today when I graduate from college. Dr. Jekyll is right, in many ways the only thing constant is change. His point being that we need not fear change, for we have gone threw it many times before, and we will go threw it many times again. Change can lead to some of the greatest discoveries, and this is what Dr. Jekyll is hoping achieve.

Later in the same scene Dr. Jekyll implies a question. Is it better to sacrifice one man by means of experimentation in order to save many suffering members of the society, or to allow many to suffer in order to spare one man? This question has been asked many times for various reasons throughout history. Sometimes man has decided one way, and other times he has gone the other. I don’t know that I personally have the answer to this question, but the musical Jekyll and Hyde has definitely made me think more about it.

The musical Jekyll and Hyde has some gorgeous music. Songs like “Some One Like You” and “In His Eyes” captivate the audience and pull them into the dramatic love triangle that ensnares the characters Dr. Jekyll, Emma Carew, and Lucy. Not only were Andrea Rivette’s (Emma Carew) and Coleen Sexton’s (Lucy) vocal’s breathtakingly beautiful, but the orchestration was equally stunning.

Another moment in the musical that was mesmerizing to watch was the song “Confrontation.” To start off Jekyll is singing a reprise of the song he sang to his father at the beginning of the musical, only this time he is singing it to a portrait of is father, and I personally feel that he is connecting to his father now on a deeper level because in many ways he is trapped in the same darkness that his father is trapped in. After he finishes the reprise “Confrontation” begins and he is essentially singing a duet with his evil self, Mr. Hyde. It’s amazing what the costume designer was able to do to help the audience see that it was both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde singing the song.

This is another area in which I think this particular musical was heavily saturated with content. The three lines that stood out to me the most all took place with in a short period of time.

During the scene in which Dr. Jekyll is proposing his experiment to the Hospital Board of Governors he asks them, “How can we call ourselves civilized if we’re not prepared to help him,

and ever reached soul like him?” This is in reference to a mental patient at the hospital. It’s an excellent question. We have science and medication that we claim to use to help people and for the betterment of society, so how can we call ourselves civilized if we are not willing to use that which makes us civilized in a way that can help those that need it?

The other two lines that stood out to me happen later in that same scene and are both said by members of the Hospital Board in response to Dr. Jekyll. The first is, “Can you change what God has set in motion?” And the second is, “What makes you think you have the right to play God?” Questions such as these can have an avalanche effect, and often times the answers only raise more questions.

The first question, “Can you change what God has set in motion?” is asked by one of the Governors. Well, can you? If you believe there is a God wouldn’t the God of the universe be all powerful? He would most certainly have to be more powerful than we humans, otherwise we would also be gods. So even if he isn’t all powerful, he must be more powerful, but if he is more powerful then can we possibly change what he has already decided is to occur? I should think not since we are not as powerful as he is.

Then there’s the other question, “What makes you think you have the right to play God?” This question is one that many Christians will ask themselves or their Christian friends as a means of checking their attitudes about certain things in their lives, however it is generally asked in a nicer way then it is asked in the context of this scene. It’s essentially the equivalent of a classmate asking me what gives me the right to play professor after I have just told them how unfair I think the grading is and how I would have given someone, possibly myself, a better grade then they had received. What on earth would give me the right to do that when I, as the student, am clearly not qualified to do so? It is the same with the Governors question. A human being, no matter how intelligent or moral they may be, will never be at a point where they are qualified to play God.

In conclusion the primary goal of the musical Jekyll and Hyde is clearly to probe the human condition and cause the audience to think, however it still succeeds at being an entertaining piece of theatre. I never thought I would find a musical that would touch my heart the way Les Misérables did, but Jekyll and Hyde has proven me wrong.

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