After the flood, Showboat rolls on
A flooded parking lot couldn't stop the Centennial Showboat Players, who have finally been able to get a steady run of this year's melodrama, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (With Musical Olios), up and running. So, several weeks after my original date with the show, I was able to take it in Wednesday evening. Was it worth the wait?
For the most part, yes. As always, these fresh-faced University of Minnesota students put on a fast-paced adventure interspersed with comic musical olios.
You know the story: A mild-mannered scientist unleashes his dark inner self on an unsuspecting London, terrorizing newsboys, young children, and the love of Henry Jekyll's life, Agnes (Katherine Fried). As police and others draw closer to the truth, can the good doctor find a cure and stop the fiendish Mr. Hyde?
Emotions are played to the hilt throughout, and the audience is invited to boo and cheer at the appropriate moments. It's a rare time when the same actor (Christian Boomgaarden) gets both reactions, depending on whether he is straight-laced Dr. Jekyll or evil Mr. Hyde.
Peter Moore gives the somewhat slight version a theatrical sharpness, with the comedy pushed about as far as in can go before becoming an outright spoof. There are gags involving the painted flat backdrops, and a bumbling police inspector (Kevin Gotch) straight out of the Peter Sellers school of performance. Still, there's still an emotional connection built, especially with poor Dr. Jekyll's horrible plight.
The melodrama has to share space with Vern Sutton's signature olios. These staged musical interludes use songs from roughly the turn of the 20th century to add to the evening's old-time theatrical feel. The songs are funny and even a bit naughty (in a prim, Victorian sort of way), as tales of loving sausages, a woman and her male quartet, and a tribute to lovers every month of the year parade by.
The 10 actors have excellent voices and perform these numbers with a ton of gusto. Nike Kadri gets a vocal highlight with her operatic attack on "The Art Olio." Later in the second act, Kadri is joined by Gotch for the epic -- and decidedly strange -- "Sage of Two Little Sausages," where love is found, lost, and found again in a butcher-shop window.
Adding to all of this are Matthew J. LeFebvre's delightful costumes, which push the olios over the top. That is especially true in "The Calendar Parade," where each month is presented by one of the women in the cast, decked out in a month-appropriate costume, from March with her lion and lamb stuffed animals to July's spinning patriotic pinwheels.
IF YOU GO:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (with Musical Olios) Through August 16 Minnesota Centennial Showboat Harriet Island, St. Paul $20-$25 For tickets and more information, call 651-227-1100 or visit online.
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