Theater Review: JEKYLL & HYDE (Wildsong Productions)

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by Milo Shapiro on July 14, 2022

in Theater-San Diego


A relatively new theatre company (and totally new to this reviewer) taking on a musical with a huge cast, intricate costuming, a stage smaller than you find in most elementary schools, and, most significantly, a book with musicality about as complex as Les Miserable. Sigh. Suck it up, put on a smile, grab your pen, and brace yourself for reviewing what they come up with. Well, you went ahead and proved this jaded old critic wrong, Wildsong, with an production that was excellent on many levels.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , is so famous that the basics of this story are pretty much an idiom by now, where someone being a “Jekyll and Hyde is synonymous with having a pleasant front and a dark side that comes out sometimes. In fact, the idiomatic meaning is so strong that it may come as a surprise to some readers to learn that the fact that it’s the same person is actually the surprise ending to the novella. Fortunately, in the musical interpretation (score by Frank Wildhorn with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse), nothing has just been given away; Jekyll’s dual nature is built into the premise early on.

Kindhearted chemist Dr. Henry Jekyll (Cody Ingram) believes he has created a formula that can separate the good from evil in people such that we can vanquish the evil, creating a world of greater good. The stuffy powers that be in London refuse to allow him to try it on another person so, being dedicated to his work, he must try it himself. Doesn’t go quite as well as he planned. His ghoulish shadow, given the name Edward Hyde (also Cody Ingram), battles for control and creates some, um, well…unpleasant business around London for Jekyll to cope with (and sing a lot about).

Co-directors Erik Ramirez and Brooke Aliceon have done an extraordinary job of fitting a staggering number of townspeople onto this two-tiered stage and having it work gracefully in concert with robust (yet not overpowering) choruses. Ingram himself has a masterful voice, as well as the acting chops to poignantly have the doctor’s two personas argue in song, a scene that might have looked comical in the wrong hands. Henry befriends Lucy (Amanda Blair), a woman of ill-repute but a good heart, who has some lovely, touching ballads, but it’s Kimberly Moller as Henry’s fiancée Emma who steals Act I vocally. Wigs/hair and costuming (Alisha Kassel and Erik Ramirez, respectively) along with Ramirez’s set design set the 1880s perfectly.

A few pitfalls: Some action on the lower tier, especially when near the ground, is unfortunately hard to see for any one other than the front row because of non-sloped seating. Ms. Blair’s big opening song was undermined by a noisy lavaliere that was clearly replaced between scenes because it never acted up again. At times, especially in Act I, the music drowned out some faster lyrics that made early scenes harder to follow.

Those caveats aside, with their production of Jekyll and Hyde, Wildsong Productions proves themselves to be a powerhouse in San Diego. If their upcoming Spring Awakenings is equally fine, Wildsong is going to be getting a lot of attention…and maybe, in time, the bigger stage they admit that they’re craving.

photos by Brooke Aliceon

Jekyll and Hyde
Wildsong Productions at the OB Playhouse (in Ocean Beach)
4944 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
Fri & Sat at 8; Sun at 3
ends on July 10, 2022
for tickets, visit

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