ORLANDO — It was seven years ago that an up and coming theatrical troupe with its own brand new space rocked the boards with its production of “Jekyll and Hyde.”
Now, seven years later they are back, a well established Central Florida theater, and they are ready to bring this musical work back in all its glory.
From tonight through Sept. 25, the Central Florida Community Arts Theatre Stage will play host to Greater Orlando Actors Theatre’s fully realized production of the Frank Wildhorn, Leslie Bricusse and Steve Cuden hit musical “Jekyll and Hyde” – a show that has mesmerized audiences the world over since it premiered in Texas in 1990.
After its initial run, there was a five year hiatus, before it played other regional theaters, had its own national tour, and eventually opened on Broadway in 1997.
Based on the famed novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and many follow up movies and treatments, the story is one of the centuries-old struggle between good and evil – oftentimes both contained in the dichotomy of all of mankind.
This evocative tale tells the story of two men (in one) – a doctor, passionate and romantic, and the other a terrifying madman; and their relationship with two women – one, beautiful and trusting, the other beautiful and trusting only in herself. Both women are in love with the same man, both unaware of his dark secret – the unleashing of his own inner demons through his own experimental treatments.
The work will be directed by GOAT’s artistic director Paul Castaneda, with musical direction by Jami-Leigh Bartschi
and choreography by Eric Yow.
Castaneda has directed both Central Florida productions of this hit musical. When queried about “Why now?” his answer was fitting in so many ways, both personal and societal.
“It’s been seven years now,” he said. “I’ve changed, the world has changed, my approach to this piece has changed. This is the perfect musical, not just for the Halloween season we are headed into, but also the election season. Until we recognize as a society that we are all good and evil, that so much grey exists, we will never find lasting solutions or progress.”
Essaying the role of Jekyll/Hyde (a change from GOAT’s first production, which utilized two different actors on the roles) is the only returning cast member of the original Central Florida production, Adam McCabe, who feels it is a fitting homecoming for him. His perspective toward the role has certainly grown over the years from his initial observation” “I need to do that,” he said when referring to the lead role. This is his chance to bite with both pairs of teeth, as it were, into the roles).
“I’ve always loved the duality of the characters, one man battling with himself throughout the show,” McCabe said. “It’s what draws people to the show initially — that, and ‘horror on stage’ has always had a pretty devout cult following. I’m just fortunate that the music is also very well written. The entire show is quite a wild ride.”
Playing such a role is certainly a challenge both emotionally and physically, and McCabe gets philosophically introspective when considering it.
“I was in a bit of a ‘good and evil’ struggle with myself, and that fed directly into developing the characters of Jekyll and Hyde,” he said. “Jekyll is a bit of a persistent brat, while Hyde is just an animal. He’s a force of nature.
“But at the end of the day, they’re both driven,” McCabe added. “Driven to heal, driven to consume, to overcome odds. But sometimes, that drive can go too far and people end up being caught in the crossfire. Sometimes blind ambition has casualties. That’s where I find myself — for better or worse.”
“Jekyll and Hyde” will play for 10 performances, so make sure you get your tickets now to prepare yourself for the Halloween season.
Shows run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. A special Industry Night show will be on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.
Performances will take place at the Central Christian Church, 250 SW Ivanhoe Boulevard in Orlando. Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors and students with I.D. and are available online at goatgroup.tix.com.
John DiDonna is the artistic director of Empty Spaces Theatre Co. and a professor of drama at Valencia College. He is also the creator of Central Florida’s long-running theatrical hit “Phantasmagoria.”