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Sunnyvale Community Players’ “Jekyll & Hyde” Depicts Gothic Storytelling

At the Sept. 11 dress rehearsal for Sunnyvale Community Players’  “Jekyll & Hyde,” was a dark tale of a man with a double identity — the noble Dr. Henry Jekyll and his alter ego, the homicidal Edward Hyde.

“Jekyll & Hyde” is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella. But a plot point in this musical that is not in the novella is a love triangle between Jekyll; his fiancee Emma (Haley Henson), a society lady; and Lucy, a prostitute and dancer from The Red Rat. “Jekyll & Hyde” is showing at Sunnyvale Community Players until Oct. 6.

“Our director (Raissa Marchetti-Kozlov) envisions the Board of Governors at the beginning of the show as the seven deadly sins,” said show Co-producer Nick Moline. “She juxtaposes this with the girls in The Red Rat as the seven honorable virtues. There’s this juxtaposition — everyone has a mirrored counterpart.

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“The show is normally orchestrated with the brass section. Our music director replaced this with an electric guitar,” continued Moline. “There are portions of the show with a musical fusion between Victorian-esque and heavy metal. We have two different people playing Jekyll on different days — one of them is female (Chloe Angst).”

Set in 1888 Victorian London, “Jekyll and Hyde” conjures up a gothic vibe with its illustration of madness, haunted spaces and a damsel in distress, all in a mysterious setting.

James Schott, who played Jekyll and Hyde at the Sept. 11 rehearsal, explained the madness that steered Hyde’s killing spree.

“There’s this turmoil going on with Dr. Jekyll,” Schott said. “He wants to cure mental illness, which he associates with evil deeds. It was a time period when people associated mental illness with demon possession. He takes it upon himself to go to the hospital board to request the ability to work on human subjects for his experiments. They tell him ‘no,’ so Jekyll does the experiment on himself and Hyde is created. Hyde is the embodiment of evil, but really, he is this uninhibited human. Hyde is not bound by the social rules and laws that everyone else is.”

With technology and special effects, a mirror haunted Jekyll’s laboratory. When Jekyll was onstage, Hyde lurked in the mirror. When Hyde was onstage, Jekyll was trapped in the mirror.

“The significance of the mirror is that it’s a representation of Jekyll’s mind, and what’s hidden inside the mind, what’s trying to get out,” Schott said.

Jocelyn Pickett played the vulnerable Lucy, the brothel’s leading lady, who yearns for personal validation.

“Lucy truly is the damsel in distress. However, Lucy is an absolute adventurer,” Pickett said. “She’s stuck inside the time period, her job and the hold that Spider (Tyler Harding) has on her. Her objectives for her life have not been accessed due to her environment.

“When meeting Jekyll, it’s the first time in her entire life she has met a man who exudes kindness, respect and pure goodness,” continued Pickett. “Lucy, to me, is the only character in the play that represents the ‘two sides to every man.’ She knows she shouldn’t be with Hyde, but there’s something absolutely dangerous, charming and dark [about him].”

Visit the Sunnyvale Community Player’s website for more information and tickets, sunnyvaleplayers.org.

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