Drama Club Presenting Classic Good versus Evil Tale in Jekyll and Hyde

Thursday, October 31, 2013
Male performer in suit stands on stage with his arms out and mouth open.

Stage Veteran: Ryan Seale, a junior biomedical engineering student, plays the lead role of Jekyll in the Rose-Hulman Drama Club's fall production. This is his fifth production at Rose-Hulman, and he is the drama club president. (Photos by Nate Montgomery)

A tale of the struggle between good and evil as embodied in one man comes to the Hatfield Hall Theater stage when the Rose-Hulman Drama Club presents Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical Thursday through Saturday, October 31-November 2, at 7:30 p.m.

Based on the classic novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, this musical thriller follows the darkening path of Henry Jekyll. In a quest to find the cause of his father's madness, Jekyll attempts to separate the innate goodness and evil of man, with disastrous results.

Ryan Seale plays Jekyll. The junior biomedical engineering major is no stranger to the Hatfield Hall stage. President of Rose Drama Club, Seale has performed in five productions during his Rose-Hulman career, including Phantom of the Opera and Chicago. In last fall's production of The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee, he exercised his comedic chops as Barfee, the guy who spells with his "magic foot."

Prior to Rose-Hulman, Seale participated in a variety of performances in his hometown of Owensville, Indiana.

"I started singing when I was about 5. I did all the talent shows in the area. Then, I started to get into theater in middle school-I was a little kid in the high school's productions. During high school I was completely involved in theater and did every show."

"My character is very obsessed with his work," Seale says of Jekyll. When this obsession leads to dire consequences, Seale says the character remains compelling, if not exactly likable. "His 'evil side' breaks through as Hyde and my character becomes very unlikable. But in the end, I hope the audience will be sympathetic toward him, and the problems created by his good intentions."

Women in white dress and veil sits down on stage holding a man in her lap

Tender Love Story: Sophomore software engineering and computer science student Samantha Staszak plays Jekyll's love interest, Emma Carew.

Jekyll's love interest, Emma Carew, is portrayed by software engineering and computer science major Samantha Staszak. As a sophomore, Staszak is a relative newcomer to Rose-Hulman Drama Club, but not to performance. The San Diego, California native has been singing from a very young age, taking voice lessons and being in choir "ever since I can remember."

"My favorite was singing with the High School National Honor Choir at Carnegie Hall. Being surrounded by such incredibly talented singers was quite the humbling experience and Carnegie Hall is absolutely breathtaking to say the least," she enthuses.

Staszak describes her character as "the archetypal romantic female role: rich, desirable, and devoted." She adds, "However, there is a certain depth to her character in that, for a woman living the late 1800's, she is rather independent and outspoken in her own right. Emma is quite the amusing character to play because she will speak her mind and be upfront but always remain charming and polite as a lady should."

The inherent dichotomy between good and evil is a theme woven throughout the musical, Staszak notes. "I find it interesting that superficially Emma's existence within the show seems to be purely dependent on Jekyll. However, Emma is actually representative of the goodness that Jekyll is searching to find in his research. The more he distances himself from her as the musical progresses, the more he succumbs to the evil inside of him."

One unique feature of this production is the inclusion of the musical's orchestra as a component of the stage set.

"Since we have a shorter timeframe in the fall to produce a show we decided to stage this musical as more of a concert-version," explains Drama Club Director Bunny Nash.

"We don't have dedicated set pieces and very few props-just specialized lighting, projections, and special effects. The big orchestration is also an integral part of Jekyll and Hyde, so it only made sense to us to place the orchestra onstage with the singers. It produces a great shared dynamic between all of the performers-singers and instrumentalists!"

Man and woman play instruments

Orchestra Highlighted: An unique feature of the fall production is the inclusion of the musical's orchestra as a component on the Hatfield Hall Theater stage set.

One of those instrumentalists is senior chemical engineering major and French horn player Geoffrey Ong. Although this is his first time performing for a drama club production, Ong has been heavily involved in musical groups at Rose-Hulman, including concert band and a faculty/student brass quintet, as well as joining the orchestra for a Christmas concert. He has also performed with the Indiana State University concert band.

In his hometown of Middlebury, Indiana, Ong was a fixture in his high school's musical ensembles, including jazz band, pep band, symphonic band, marching band, and pit orchestras.

"I also played trumpet for my high school's show choir band, the Northern Lights," says Ong, adding that he was a member of the Elkhart County Youth Honors Orchestra. "One of my proudest accomplishments was performing a memorized, seven-minute horn concerto written by Mozart in the Elkhart County Student Concerto Competition."

While performing is nothing new to Ong, he says being part of the stage production is "a new and very cool experience for me."

"We are there to provide music and support the actors. Since we are not the actors, we should attempt to blend into the surroundings as much as possible. That being said, it is very cool to be so close to the actors; too often, pit orchestra members are moved out of the way, and we never get to see the show. Now, we actually get to feel like we are directly involved in the production, since the singers may only be a few steps away."

Rose-Hulman Drama Club's production of Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical will be Thursday, October 31; Friday, November 1; and Saturday, November-2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Hall Theater. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/youth. Advance tickets may be purchased online at hatfieldhall.com or by calling the Hatfield Hall ticket desk at 812-877-8544 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets may also be available at the ticket booth before each show.