SIGNAL PEAK — Following more than a yearlong hiatus prompted by COVID-19, actors with the BlackBox Foundation return to the stage this month with a new theater production, “Jekyll and Hyde.”
The Gothic-horror romance is produced by BlackBox Foundation with Central Arizona College and will be shown at the Pence Center theater Oct. 29 and 30.
The musical version of “Jekyll & Hyde” is loosely based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novella of the same name.
“Probably the most fun element of the show is developing these characters,” said show director Cindi Calhoun. “So many are unique and larger than life and require some strong versatility from the actors. This group is incredibly talented, and every rehearsal they develop and discover something new in telling this story.”
The story follows main character Henry Jekyll in his pursuit of knowledge and a desire to help people who are in asylums due to mental illness.
“He is motivated by the declining health of his father and decides that the only way to test his theories and discoveries is to make himself the subject of his experiments — a devastating choice that leads to the creation of Edward Hyde,” Calhoun said.
As the story unfolds, a love triangle develops.
“Jekyll is engaged to London socialite Emma Carew, but he is also drawn to burlesque performer Lucy Harris, for whom Hyde develops a dangerous and violent obsession,” Calhoun said.
The story has developed a cult-like status in musical theater circles.
“Composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Leslie Bricusse actually created several versions of the show, so it can sometimes pleasantly surprise fans which one is performed. In our case, it is the licensed script from Musical Theatre International,” she said. “I do think audiences will enjoy the balance of the macabre and Gothic elements against the love story. And there are some surprises, but I can’t give them away here.”
For Calhoun, the production is the second time she’s directing “Jekyll & Hyde.”
“I produced ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ seven years ago and some of my actors then returned to do the show again,” she said. “The cast is immensely talented and have worked so hard to make this production happen. I am so proud of the work they’ve done and I can’t wait to share this show with the community.”
The play is the first full production at the CAC Signal Peak Campus theater since COVID as well as the first for BlackBox Foundation.
“BlackBox did present a musical revue — kind of our greatest hits — in July at Pence. It was successful and a sign that people are ready for theater again,” Calhoun said.
Producing a show and ensuring the health and safety of the cast and crew amidst the continuing concerns for COVID has been a challenge, Calhoun said.
“Fortunately, almost all cast and production team members are vaccinated, and we’ve had no cases of exposure or quarantine up to this point,” she said.
The show features a cast of 20 actors from CAC and area communities, including residents from Casa Grande, Maricopa, Mesa and Tucson.
“Our cast members are wide and varied,” Calhoun said. “I think that shows how popular ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ is and how many people were ready to be a part of it and return to the stage.”
Characters in the show are played by the following BlackBox Foundation actors:
- Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde — Carlos Omar Venegas (understudy is Mardonio Monreal)
- Emma Carew — Terese Sanchez (understudy is Mandy Ressler)
- Lucy Harris — Lindsey Howard (understudy is Chaienne Zoller)
- Sir Danvers Carew — Jason White
- John Utterson — Mardonio Monreal
- Simon Stride/Spider — Logan Keiser
- Lady Beaconsfield — Kari Davis
- Lady Savage — Kailey Mattheisen (female swing)
- Bishop of Basingstoke — Daniel Grimaldo
- Lord General Glossop — Steven Madsen
- Sir Archibald Proops — Garret Hicks
- Nellie — Mandy Ressler
- Poole — Sevi Silvia
- Bissett — Olivia Slater
- Red Rat Girls — Olivia Slater, Sevi Silvia, Chaienne Zoller, Megan Skoko and Kailey Mattheisen
There are three chances to catch the show.
- Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.
- Oct. 30 at 2 and 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased online at https://centralaz.edu/event/jekyll-and-hyde/.
CAC recommends that attendees wear masks on campus.