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Sure, he seems nice now

When Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde, murder replaces mercy in 19th century London and on a Pasco stage.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Published March 16, 2007


Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical is often compared (sometimes favorably, mostly not) to the beloved musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd.

Indeed, all three have a tormented hero, a beautiful woman who is torn in her love for him and dramatic musical scores.

Local audiences can make their own assessment today through Sunday, when the Salerno Theatre Company of Tampa brings Jekyll & Hyde to the Richey Suncoast Theatre.

It's the musical's second trip to New Port Richey. The first was in June 2005, when Salerno made its first trip to the 325-seat downtown theater. Since then, the company has brought four other shows, including 50 Years of Broadway in November.

Jekyll & Hyde's plot is familiar to anyone who has read the Robert Louis Stevenson classic novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

It's the story of the brilliant and respected doctor Jekyll (Michael Mathews), who longs to find a cure for his father's mental illness. Jekyll believes he has found a drug that will bring out a person's good qualities while suppressing the bad ones. To prove his hypothesis, he experiments on himself, injecting the drug he thinks will work.

At first, Dr. Jekyll is able to go back and forth between personalities, studying each one in turn; but as time passes, the experiment begins to backfire.

Instead of a gentle person re-emerging, Dr. Jekyll's most evil impulses take over as the murderous Edward Hyde. He begins to stalk the streets of 19th century London, causing mayhem and murder wherever he goes.

Dr. Jekyll's beloved fiancee, Emma Carew (Amy E. Gray), tries to help him. The pathetic prostitute Lucy (Nicole Allegretto), who has been helped by Dr. Jekyll, becomes Hyde's tortured victim.

The story is accompanied by Frank Wildhorn's music, much of it reminiscent of other musicals -J&H's Facade is much like Phantom's Masquerade; its Once Upon a Dream like Les Miserable's I Dreamed a Dream.

Still, those who enjoy a large, dramatic show will find much to like about Jekyll & Hyde, including many favorite musical numbers - This Is the Moment, In His Eyes and the most unusual, The Confrontation, where the two personalities fight to control Dr. Jekyll's body.

IF YOU GO

'Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical'

Where: Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey.

When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $15 adults, $12 Richey Suncoast Theatre season ticket holders, and $8 ages 12 and younger. The box office will be open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Saturday and an hour before each show.