Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Jekyll and Hyde, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

Jekyll and Hyde
Assembly Hall Theatre
Tunbridge Wells

30 May - 4 June 2011
(show seen 1st June)


Dr Henry Jekyll & Mr Edward Hyde - Marti Pellow
Lucy - Sabrina Carter
Emma - Sarah Earnshaw
Sir Danvers - David Delve
Utterson - Mark McGee
Lady Beaconsfield - Amira Matthews
Simon Stride - Michael Taibi
General Glossop - Martin Dickinson
Sir Archibald Proops - Matt Stevens
Lord Savage/Spider - Jacob Chapman
Bishop Of Basingstoke - Jon De Ville
Poole - James Gant
Bisset - Daniel Robinson
Ensemble - Carolyn Maitland
Ensemble - Alexandra Grierson
Ensemble - Grace Gardner
Ensemble/Swing - Rob Copeland
Ensemble/Swing - Kerri Watt

The thing about having severe short term memory problems is that, in contrast, my long term memory is pretty vivid. I thought it was only a couple of years ago we thoroughly enjoyed Paul Nicholas starring in Jekyll and Hyde at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne. I can still picture Nicholas on stage mixing his steaming colourful concoction to drink. It therefore came as a bit of a shock to find it was 7 years ago (August/Sept 2004).

Now I already know just how well Marti Pellow can act and sing having seen him star in the 2009 production of The Witches Of Eastwick but I still couldn't see that he could equal Paul Nicholas's amazing portrayal of the characters created by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Marti Pellow supporting GOSH in Tunbridge Wells
Well, he didn't equal the performance given by Nicholas. No he exceeded it in every aspect. As Jekyll I found him to be a total believable doctor. Confident in his career yet disillusioned by those in power who put barriers in the way of his research. And as Hyde? Well what a transformation. A simple ruffle of the hair is all that was required to turn Pellow from gentleman to total monster. I've got to be honest but he was also great as Mr nasty, Darryl Van Horne, in The Witches Of Eastwick but J&H is a far superior production.

As for the vocals well Marti delivers nothing but power and perfection throughout the show, as you may expect. But what you may not anticipate is the two incredible leading ladies in this show. Sabrina Carter as 'lady of the night' Lucy and Sarah Earnshaw as the much more refined fiancee of Jekyll, Emma both perform impeccably.

I find it hard to recall a production with 3 so incredibly talented lead vocals heading the cast. Also how Sabrina manages to remain in her tight corset as Pellow slings her around stage and bed is anybodys guess.

My mentioning of those 3 leads does not detract from the fabulous performances given by all the other cast members all of whom are perfectly suited to their roles. I feel duty bound to give Jacob Chapman a mention for his brilliant undertaking of 2 characters, Lord Savage and Spider. It is he who provides the little humour which exists in this dark tale and he does it so well.

After the utter disappointment of The Wizard Of Oz at this same venue it was great to see a traditional musical performed so wonderfully.

The sad thing for this production in Tunbridge Wells was that it clashed with the TV semi finals and final of Britain's Got Talent. It was very evident, having seen which seats were prebooked, that not only was the audience relatively small but so many people who had paid for tickets did not turn up. I think its the only time we have been to a major production to find we were the only couple in the whole front row.

I have to say, especially in these days of digital recorders, I find that attitude a little sad. Also a little ironic that many are choosing to stay at home watching a show which is promoting acts which will hopefully go on to be successful theatre acts themselves but foregoing a stunning theatrical production they have paid good money to see. To quote an occasional Britain's Got Talent judge, Louis Walsh, "I really don't get it!".

Anyway for those of you around the country who are yet to see Jekyll and Hyde with Marti Pellow I would thoroughly recommend that you see it and record anything on TV that is so important.

Well done to all involved, including the band of course, Jekyll and Hyde is a fantastic musical!

(The photo was a signing Marti kindly provided for Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. Click the image for more details)
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