In “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical,” the Kenai Performers next week will explore a tone and sensibility that they say hasn’t been seen in this community by putting a familiar two-faced icon on stage.
The show will run Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 26-29 and Nov. 2-5. Shows start at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday while the Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.
Performers and directors alike said the show digs into something darker than most of the productions that the company stages.
“I have always enjoyed the darker side of creativity,” Director Ian McEwen said Wednesday. “Dark doesn’t mean bad, it just means it’s dealing with deeper emotions.”
The musical is something he first encountered in high school, he said, and always dreamed of putting on. He said that it breathes life and suspense into a familiar character while exploring timeless themes like morality and personality. He said the show will be brought to life by talented local actors “doing stuff on the stage that has not been seen in this town.”
Of course, “The Musical” in “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical” implies a certain amount of singing. Though the actors said there aren’t any jazz hands, there are complex and catchy melodies driving the narrative forward.
Music Director Josiah Burton said the show features challenging solos and powerful ensemble numbers, calling it “Gothic with its own pop twist.” He said the show presents unique challenges to its actors and demands a lot from them.
In the title role is Braeden Garrett, who has to portray both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as they share custody of a single body — alternating control as often as between individual lines.
“He loses sight of what’s important because he’s so obsessed with this need to save humanity,” Garrett said of his lighter half.
In pursuit of that obsession, Garrett said Jekyll breaks down “the wall that allows man to separate good and evil — the fine line where sanity melts.”
He said the role is a fun opportunity to embody both leading man and villain. That he was able to explore that dichotomy to the ends seen on stage, he said, is credit to a supportive and trusting team of fellow cast members.
Charli Byrd plays Emma Carew, the fiancee of Dr. Jekyll. Byrd said Emma is “spunky” and “loves hard,” but comes from an upper-class background. In the role, she gets to “explore the emotions” her character experiences as she grapples with what’s happening to Jekyll.
Lucy Harris, another woman who finds herself in the throes of love with the double-lived doctor, is portrayed by Alyeska Garrett. In stark contrast to Emma, she doesn’t come from means, and looks at Jekyll as an opportunity to socially advance.
Thematically, the group promised that in the darkness the show connects with those same deeper emotions to an ending more thoughtful than happy.
“It shows the darker side of humanity,” Alyeska said. “You leave feeling something — maybe unsettled. Theater is just the reflection of the human condition.”
Byrd echoed the sentiment that the show will leave people with a sense of emotion. She said that in the themes, people may find things to resonate with in their own lived experience in a way that might be healing.
“The internal struggle between good and evil is a classic literary or artistic theme,” McEwen said. “Most of our life is lived in the space between — that gray area. When we try to live in such a way that we deny one side of our personality entirely, we are not only doing a disservice to ourselves, we’re doing a disservice to everyone around us.”
Especially in the modern social and political climate, McEwen said there’s tremendous value in understanding our own capacity for good and evil — especially when that understanding leads to acknowledgment of when we’ve done something wrong.
“The show is really going to surprise,” Braeden said. “We’re all taking it to the next level, and it’s going to be reflected in the performances.”
“Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical” will run at the Kenai Performers’ Theatre on Kalifornsky Beach Road during the next two weekends — Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 26-29 and Nov. 2-5. Sunday showings are a matinee at 2 p.m., all other showtimes are at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at kenaiperformers.org. The company notes that the show contains violence and sexuality, and “is not suited for young audiences.”
The company has also partnered with a variety of local businesses who are putting on specials this month to celebrate the show. Special menu options will be available this month at Mel’s, Northern Lights Espresso, Odie’s Deli, the Duck Inn and Cafe, Charlotte’s Restaurant, Lucy’s Market and Kenai River Brewing Company. A special dinner and show option is also available from Addie Camp for the Thursday performances.
For more information, find “Kenai Performers” on Facebook.
This story was edited on Friday to correct the spelling of Director Ian McEwen’s name.