A Night at the Theater: ‘Jekyll and Hyde’

Photo courtesy of AllEvents.in | The student-run musical theater group Leading Ladies performed “Jekyll and Hyde” last week.

Photo courtesy of AllEvents.in | The student-run musical theater group Leading Ladies performed “Jekyll and Hyde” last week.

 

Janan Fugel ’19
Staff Writer

Putting on a show is no small feat. That is especially true when you have to start from scratch like the Smith College student-run musical theater organization Leading Ladies did with its performance of “Jekyll and Hyde” last weekend.

“Jekyll and Hyde” is an especially difficult musical, not only because of its content and length but also because of the difficulty of its songs being performed by an all-female cast and the large cast required by the script. As a small organization, most of the cast played multiple roles. This was just one of the many choices director Quinn Malter ’18 made throughout the six-week process.

Taking and giving direction is a difficult task for all involved in the production of a musical. This is especially true when those in charge are peers and friends. A lead in the show and co-president of the organization’s board, Susannah Davis ’18, described the many different hats she needed to wear through out this process. “You get really good at working with your friends in different capacities. For example, I have been friends with Quinn, our director, since the spring show last year … as a cast member, I took direction from her, as a costumer we worked together creatively, as co-chairs we worked as equals and as a friend I supported her.”

Both the actors and the director commented on the cast’s willingness to get involved. The cast jumped right into the show, even before the scripts arrived. 

Malter described how great this cast was to work with. “The cast has taken this idea [of good versus evil] and really run with it and shown excitement and passion for it since day one,” she said. One of the cast members complimented Malter’s creativity and lack of ego, which made the rehearsal process smooth and enjoyable.

Live theater constantly evolves – there are marks actors must hit and blocking that must be followed, and no scene ever looks the same every time it is performed. The Leading Ladies certainly found this to be true. I was graciously allowed to get a peek of the show during their final dress rehearsal the Wednesday before the show opened. From then to when I saw the closing night show on Saturday, many changes had been made. For one thing, the confidence in many of the actors increased by the final night of the performance, from leads Davis and Sage Walund ’18 to featured actresses Emily Hitchcock ’19 and Emma Hathaway ’17.

The cast also seemed more united. As I watched the opening number during the dress rehearsal, there was some hesitation. By the final night, however, the opening number looked almost completely different due to the confidence of the actors. It sounded different too, as the nerves present in the final dress rehearsal disappeared.

Due to the autonomous nature of the Leading Ladies’ organization, they need to provide most their own necessary materials. The venue, the lighting, the costumes and even the stage must be booked, installed and created by the members of the organization. I applaud the creativity of the Leading Ladies. They really turned nothing into something. They made costumes from old clothes, created intricate lighting schemes from the few lights they have access to and put a show together with what they could. In particular, I really loved the costumes they created from old bridesmaid dresses and random back-of-the-closet finds. I also loved the lighting, which highlighted the cast’s shadows on the walls and fit the dark motif of the show.

Although this production of “Jekyll and Hyde” may have been on a smaller scale than Broadway, after speaking to the director and a few Leading Ladies cast members, it seems they like it that way. They were a group of strangers who became friends through their common interest: theater. They have a blast putting shows together and participating in theater. For that, I applaud them.

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