The first musical soundtrack Melissa Gulbronson ever owned featured songs from “Jekyll & Hyde.” So singing in Shot in the Dark Production’s latest play should be no problem.
Cast as Emma Carew, the eponymous doctor’s fiancée, Gulbronson will likely find herself singing songs like “Emma’s Reasons,” “His Work and Nothing More” and “Once Upon a Dream.” All are integral in telling the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll and his relentless pursuit to splice the good and evil.
“The music is incredible in this show,” said Gulbronson. “It also gives you an idea of who these characters are.”
Then there are songs like “Bring On the Men” that, at first, doesn’t seem to have a place in a musical based on the gothic tale by author Robert Louis Stevenson. But who cares -- it’s just so damn catchy.
The cast of “Jekyll & Hyde” sang this song with confidence and fervor during a rehearsal last week, filling the small space with uproarious melody. Other actors had gathered inside the Evelynn Larson Theatre. Director Joey Hartshorn -- with a script and sheet music placed on a stand in front of her -- watched as they rambled off a few lines.
Hartshorn’s vision won’t come to fruition until Friday (Jan. 15) when the first show for “Jekyll & Hyde” opens to the public. As expected, the director has added her own special flair to this Shot in the Dark Productions musical by incorporating a steampunk style. Costume designer Kristy Tremayne said she practically begged Hartshorn to let her be in charge of the costumes.
“It’s just something new -- a new form of costuming,” said Tremayne. “It excited me and challenged me.”
The cast will don Victorian steampunk-style outfits, which means a lot of chains, belts, top hats and corsets -- lots and lots of corsets. The color scheme, Tremayne added, is very neutral, incorporating heavy shades of black and brown. Clockwork pieces and gears are also quite common with the steampunk theme.
“We’re not going a lot of metal,” said Tremayne. “It’s a representation of the time period with a modern spin on it. We’re taking a lot of existing garments and steampunking them up.”
Another deviation from the original musical is the part of Jekyll and his alternate personality Hyde has been split into two. Scott Kruse will play the devoted doctor and John Krager will take on the evil maniac Hyde. Actor Carter Smith, who plays Sir Archibald Proops, said the departure works in the musical’s favor.
“If you’re familiar with the show you might question it,” he said. “But when you see it in action, it is just so cool.”
It also gives Kruse more time to flesh out the character of Jekyll.
“You can’t really do both parts justice in one person,” he said. “I know I get worn out doing my part, so I can’t imagine doing both. Making that switch between both the roles is emotionally taxing.”
Actress Alisha Spurrell, who plays Jekyll’s maid Mrs. Poole, added that the audience will more easily identify which personality is which.
“Having two characters makes that line between good and evil – which is so important in the story – crystal clear,” said Spurrell.