Jekyll & Hyde brings good versus evil to WPAC stage

Just in time to ring in Halloween, audiences at the Wilson Performing Arts Center will be able to see a new twist on the classic horror tale of good vs. evil.
Oct. 27-30, the WPAC will debut “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical,” based off of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella. The musical is directed by Becca Jackson York. York said that while she’s done some projects with the WPAC in the past, this is the first time she’s directing a full show. York said she’s always loved the show and music, as well as one of its more famous filmed productions, which starred David Hasslehoff in the title role.
“Who doesn’t love David Hasselhoff? I fell asleep watching “Baywatch” back in the day,” commented York. “The music by Frank Wildhorn is just awesome, and he’s revised the show over and over, which makes it somewhat challenging to find the listening tracks that match the score. If you’ve seen the David Hasslehoff production, it’s not identical to what we’re offering. It’s very similar of course, but there are things that don’t exist in that show that do in ours, and vice-versa.”
Another draw for York was the core battle of good and evil that is at the heart of the main character.
“It isn’t that Hyde wasn’t in Jekyll all along, it’s that in his effort to contain good vs. evil, what happens to the evil? We all have a dark and light side in us, and our ability to navigate and balance those things is what makes us human. I think we try to very honestly tell the struggle of who will win, and what wins out, and I think the audience will have to decide. I don’t think it’s clear what wins in the end,” explained York
York cast many of the roles at the end of August and said she has been working to fill the rest of the roles and is working on a condensed schedule.
“We’re doing the rehearsals to production in eight weeks, and the cast has been working their tails off and rehearsing four or five times a week. I’m working with a lot of old friends and a lot of new friends,” York said. “Also, the set is somewhat minimalistic, and the costuming will help accentuate all the characters. There’s a steampunk edge to it, because it’s in addition to it being naturally Victorian. I like the heaviness and the leather that comes from steampunk, and it accentuates the edginess and heaviness to this internal struggle we all have with good and evil.”
York also said she’s never worked with a better group of people simultaneously as she has with the cast of “Jekyll & Hyde.”
Don Torbett is playing the role of Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde. Torbett said he’s been doing theatre since he was in middle school and was best friends with Jared Sherman. Torbett was introduced to the score by Tim Marsden and fell in love with it. He was given a CD of the songs, and has been listening to the show since around 2014.
“It’s a part I’ve always wanted to do, just because I loved the songs so much. It’s a fulfilling part to play, and you can do everything you could want as an actor in this part. It was a show I’d suggested that the Wilson do, because I felt we had the cast for it, and when it was announced, I was here for auditions the first day,” Torbett commented.
The unique format of the show also gives Torbett a rare acting opportunity: the chance to play both the hero and the villain of the show. Torbett said it’s a bit of an actor’s dream.
“I’ve always played the romantic lead, and being a villain is new to me. I’ve never played the villain before, and I’m having to do both in the same show, and it’s one part as two characters. There’s a whole song where Jekyll and Hyde are talking to each other, so in one moment I’m Jekyll, and in the next moment, I’m Hyde. It’s exhausting, but it’s also challenging and fulfilling as an actor,” Torbett stated. “I’m having to go to dark places to get into character and do things that I wouldn’t do myself, but portray it as the character well enough that it’s believable for the audience.”
Kaitlyn Widger is in the cast as the fiancée of Jekyll, Emma Carew. Widger said after she finishes her senior year of high school, she plans to pursue performance and music as a career. Widger was drawn to the show, in part, because York was the show’s director, and she had done some master classes with her.
“I really liked her teaching style, and I just wanted the opportunity to learn more from her,” said Widger. “I initially wasn’t planning to audition, but the night of the auditions, something told me to come. I was just expecting a chorus part, but she asked me to sing for Emma, which is challenging because she’s a soprano, and in the past I’ve been an alto. This is my first experience singing as a soprano.”
While she’s singing in a different range, Widger said the most challenging aspect of the part has been the romantic aspect of it, as she’s not used to that type of part.
“It’s been interesting getting comfortable playing the love interest of someone I didn’t really know before this show, but it’s been a great learning experience,” Widger explained.
As for the most rewarding part of the experience, Widger said it’s been opening up and discovering her higher vocal range, as she never believed she could sing that high before.
Blair DeBolt, who plays Lucy Harris, Hyde’s love interest, is also singing in a new vocal range for the show. While she regularly sings soprano and is a trained opera singer, DeBolt said she’s enjoying the challenge of the part, despite the fact she was initially intending to audition for Emma Carew.
“Don talked to me about it during the summer and said I should audition. I didn’t think I was right for the show, but I went ahead and auditioned, and Becca asked if I was interested in doing the Lucy role. The role is completely out of my comfort zone, but the more uncomfortable I am, the better I’ll be as a person,” DeBolt commented.
Like Widger, DeBolt said singing in an entirely different range for the first time was also quite a challenge.
“I’m very comfortable in acting and finding a backstory and subtext to my character, but my voice is my identity. Switching that has made me feel super vulnerable in this role,” Widger said.
Also in the cast is Ciara Schierkolk, who plays Lady Beconsfield. Scheirkolk said she’s been enjoying playing a different type of role than she’s used to.
“I love the snootiness of the role. My character is also three times older than I am, and has a husband who’s been dead longer than I have been alive, so that’s been really fun. It’s fun to be so different from myself,” Schierkolk stated.
Also in the cast are Tommy Hanna, Steve Hydeen, Andrew Soden, Dan Crouse, Jessica Bell, Megan Smith, Kristi Hardwick, John Murren, Wendy Hardwick, Jack Murren, Julie Murren, Leann Annette Nelson, Lauryn Scott, Kay Soden, Danie Sodden, and Ethan Strunk.
The show can be seen at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27-29, and at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 30. Tickets are $30 for adults, and $20 for students, and can be purchased by calling 623-3183, or online at

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

Comment Here