Robert Cuccioli won all sorts of awards for his portrayal of the dualled-personality Jekyll/Hyde a few years back. Lately, he’s taken to directing. So I guess he went to Mr. Stutler and Mr. Funking and either they—or he—suggested that he direct a reincarnation of one of WBT’s most successful shows this fall. Who best to know an actor’s heart? Who best to know staging, motivation and the correct way to deliver a song?
Enter Mr. Cuccioli.
Through the process of auditions, our director has chosen Xander Chauncey to portray this tortured man, Dr. Henry Jekyll, who is searching out a cure for his ailing father, who is now on his deathbed. Dr. Jekyll has fashioned a serum that will split off the evil in us from the good. Unfortunately, this brings us his alter-ego, Dr. Edward Hyde. Dr. Hyde’s power eventually grows, and leads to all sorts of musical mayhem and murder. Chauncey is unflappable as an actor, singer, and schizophrenic personality. What I wouldn’t give to have the head of hair that is freed from its Jekyll ponytail, to become the evil Hyde! His eyebrows move…he gestures…and this good citizen Jekyll is transformed into Hyde! (Witness “Transformation” in the second act, where Chauncey sings against Chauncey—it is a marvel!)
So, next, what does Mr. Cuccioli and the proprietors of WBT do? They hire a set designer named Steven Loftus who uses black sets that move, interchange, and dissolve to set the mood of this Robert Louis Stevenson story, set to music. Bravo, Mr. Loftus!
Then comes Andrew Gmoser, who lights up the stage with the colors of the mood of the piece—red for horror, blue for solemnity. Great work, Mr. Gmoser! And great work for Choreographer Jen-Paul Richard and Leo P. Carusone for the great ensemble musically.
How’s about the rest of this cast that has gathered for Mr. Cuccioli? You might compare Linda Eder (who played the original slut Emma Carew in the Broadway version) to Jennifer Babiak, who shows a mad frenzy and a great soprano for singing Frank Wildhorn’s songs. Thanks to Tom Galantich and James Van Treuren, and Michelle Dawson, as well. Dawson portrays Jekyll’s bride-to-be, the long-suffering love-in-waiting, with a terrific stage presence.
Go to this show to find out how Dr. Jekyll/Dr. Hyde find true peace and harmony inn their schizophrenia. Go to this show because it’s great. Go to this show because you can eat dinner (as part of your ticket price). Go to this show because you want to reflect how the “Façade” of this piece can reflect the façade of our lives. It is that good!
Thank you, Mr. Cuccioli. Your choice of Chauncey for your part was inspiring. He even rivals your portrayal. Go to the Westchester Broadway Theatre…GO!