Fullerton Civic Light Opera ends its 2007 season on a high note with the 
return engagement of their 2001 award-winner Jekyll & Hyde.  Arguably the 
most popular “musical thriller” in Broadway history (1523 performances), J&H 
boasts a classic storyline (by Robert Lewis Stevenson), a highly hummable 
score by Frank Wildhorn, two amazing roles for leading ladies (good girl/bad 
girl), spectacle, murder, and above all one of the most challenging 
acting/singing roles ever written for a musical theater leading man. FCLO’s 
production has been directed with consummate professionalism by Ovation 
winning Jan Duncan, with superb musical direction by 35-year FCLO vet Lee 
Kreter, leading an orchestra that couldn’t be better.

Care has clearly gone into this production (and some big bucks too, 
considering the intricate set design and lavish costumes), and it shows. 
Dwight Richard Odle has created a multilevel set with a suitably precarious-
looking wrought iron bridge which looms over the stage, perfect for the Act 
1 murder finale atop the streets of London, and a lower level which 
transforms effortlessly into a physician’s laboratory, a prostitute’s bedroom, 
an elegant London home, a Gothic church, a house of ill repute, and the 
streets of London, among other locales.  Christina Munich’s lighting assists 
immensely in completing Odle’s sets, with the bright scarlet of “The King’s 
Rat,” the shadows of St. Jude’s hospital, the evil green which accompanies 
Mr. Hyde’s appearances, and the morning sunlight through the stained glass 
windows of St. Anne’s Church.  AJ Gonzalez’ sound design, while 
earsplittingly strident in ensemble numbers such as the opening Façade, is 
dramatically effective in the thunderous accompaniment to Jekyll’s 
transformations into the evil Mr. Hyde.  Sharell Martin’s costumes are a 
sumptuous recreation of 1888 London fashions, depicting a wide cross-
section of late 19th century British society.  

Both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are brought to vivid life by T. Eric Hart, the star of 
FCLO’s 2001 production, who appeared on Broadway in The Scarlet 
Pimpernel, another Wildhorn smash. Hart gives a powerful performance 
(actually a pair of performances) and possesses a rich and dramatic singing 
voice. His transformation into Hyde (Mr. Evil himself) is truly scary.  In fact, the 
more evil Hyde becomes, the better Hart is.  When Hart licks the blood of the 
knife with which Hyde has just murdered yet another victim, it is truly chilling.  
Hart does magnificent work in the show-stopping Confrontation, a duet 
between Jekyll and Hyde performed with split-second transformations. It is a 
tour de force moment.  

As excellent as Hart is, the breakout star of the evening in my book is the 
dazzlingly beautiful Kelli Provart as Lucy, the proverbial you-know-what with 
a heart of gold. Provart, who as Kelli Fournier was easily the best thing about 
the national tour of Aida (which played the Ahmanson a few years back), 
has a voice to match her movie star looks and legitimate acting chops. 
Provart is exquisite singing Take Me As I Am and radiant with hope and joy 
as she belts out Someone Like You. I can’t wait to see more of her work!

Emma, Lucy’s good girl counterpart, is played to perfection by the always 
wonderful Victoria Strong, one of L.A. musical theater’s real treasures. That 
the actress who brings the very upper crust Emma to life with her glorious 
light opera soprano is the very same Victoria Strong who recently stepped in 
last minute for laryngitis-afflicted Misty Cotton in Annie Get Your Gun and 
belted out Can’t Get a Man With A Gun in her best Reba twang is nothing 
short of amazing.  Strong’s rendition of Once Upon A Dream is deeply 
affecting, and her A New Life duet with Provart brings about deserved 

The stellar trio are supported by a uniformly fine cast, among them Richard 
Kinsey as Jekyll’s best friend, Jack Ritchel as Sir Danvers, John Racca as Simon 
Stride, John Huntington as Bishop Basil, Richard Comeau as Archibald 
Proops.  There’s nary a weak link in the huge cast, proving once again the 
depth and breadth of musical theater talent in the Southland.

Duncan’s staging is always first rate, with highlights including the seductive 
duet between Hyde and Lucy (A Dangerous Game), the extended murder 
montage which begins Act 2, and the exciting and moving denouement.  I 
especially liked the way Duncan staged Lucy and Emma’s In His Eyes, with 
Emma perched high atop far stage right and Lucy seated at the foot of the 
stairs far stage left. Very effective!  Though there’s not a lot of 
“choreography” per se, Karen Nowicki has done of fine job of musically 
moving the cast of 30 across and around the stage.

Quibbles are few and minor. The cast’s British accents are all over the place, 
though Strong’s is arguably the best of the bunch, and Hart seems a 
decade or so too old for Jekyll/Hyde.  Also, I can also understand why some 
critics find Wildhorn’s music a bit too “generic pop.” For example, Jekyll’s This 
is the Moment, which he sings before taking the potion which transforms him 
into the malevolent Hyde, seems to have been written with a figure skating 
performance or an Olympic gold medal ceremony in mind. Still, few can 
argue that Wildhorn knows how to write a beautiful melody, and there are 
many of them in J&H.

With CLOSBC’s current Kiss Me Kate, Downey’s Oklahoma, and Sacred Fool’s 
Drood, soon to be joined by Musical Theatre West’s Pajama Game, Reprise’s 
Damn Yankees, Pasadena Playhouse’s Ray Charles, Cabrillo’s Seven Brides for 
Seven Brothers, and Performance Riverside’s Seussical, Angelinos with a yen 
for musical theater are truly blessed with a wealth of treasures.  Wherever 
you live, Fullerton is just a freeway ride away, and FCLO’s Jekyll & Hyde is well 
worth the drive there.

Plummer Auditorium, 201 E. Chapman Ave, Fullerton;

–Steven Stanley
October 12, 2007

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