REVIEW: 1812 Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Old Meeting House, Helmsley Arts Centre, July 5 to 9 ***

Natasha Jones’s Lucy Harris and Joe Gregory’s Dr Jekyll in 1812 Theatre Company’s Jekyll & Hyde The Musical. All pictures: Helmsley Arts Centre, Joe Coughlan Phtography

IN their 30th anniversary year, Helmsley Arts Centre’s resident troupe, the 1812 Theatre Company, staged a musical for the first time.

The Old Meeting House stage is not the biggest, yet still Julie Lomas’s cast could accommodate 22 players in that compact space, with the full company number Murder! Murder! being one of the highpoints for cast and choreographer Michaela Edens alike.

Lomas is an experienced directorial hand from her days at The Grange Theatre, Walsall, where she directed Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s Broadway musical for the Grange Players. Likewise, musical director John Atkin had filled the same role for York Musical Theatre Company in May last year.

Know-how and experience duly combined with fresh ideas to good effect in this musical retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella of love, betrayal and murder.

Sarah Barker’s brothel madam, Aunt, in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

Two keyboards, guitar and drums took care of business with panache, Atkin and cohorts Cameron McArthur, Paul McArthur and Joe Brooks being equally at home with big ballads in the Lloyd Webber mode and the sly wickedness shared with Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.

Sue Elm, Michael Goslin and Peter Ives’s set was built on two levels, both of them busy with human traffic in the ensemble numbers but best suited to the duets and profusion of solo numbers. Dr Henry Jekyll’s laboratory had to be rather squeezed in at the back but thankfully Joe Gregory is whippet slim.

The Gothic colour scheme of red walls and black doors was particularly effective when matched by the attire of the Victorian prostitutes of the Red Rat, and the use of masks was striking too.

This was CharlesHutchPress’s first encounter with Joe Gregory, and what an impressive lead performance he gave as the handsome/devil conflation of the upstanding, urbane but obsessive Jekyll and vengeful, sadistic, deranged alter ego Hyde welled up from within, once the doctor dares to dabble in reckless scientific experimentation in the cause of research for mental illness.

Joe Gregory’s urbane but obsessive Dr Jekyll

No Hammer Horror histrionics to report here on the journey to the dark side and an inner struggle between good and evil, scientific learning and carnal carnage. Instead, Gregory became more forceful of voice and manner, his movements staccato, stealthy and seductive, his actions ruthless, as brisk and lean as a bull fighter beneath a cocked hat.

The contrast was greater in his singing of the largely narrative songs, where notes would be deliberately strained in Hyde’s more urgent, guttural delivery, never more so than in The Confrontation, the Act Two vocal wrestling match for control in this dangerously dual personality.

It cannot be every arts centre where the artistic director (and youth theatre director to boot) happens to be the stand-out singer and actress for the resident company too. Step forward Natasha Jones, who was a knockout as Lucy Harris, the love-struck but self-protective prostitute, at once feisty but fearful and vulnerable.

What a voice; what expressiveness.  Each and every one of Lucy’s solo songs was better for her singing it, having first teased and tantalised provocatively among the saucy prostitutes in Bring On The Men.

Natasha Jones’s Lucy Harris: “What a voice. What expressiveness”

Her duets with both Gregory’s Jekyll and Hyde fizzed with electricity and, in between, her duet with Amy Gregory’s Emma Carew, Dr Jekyll’s trusting, unknowing fiancée, was Amy’s peak moment too.

As befits a romanticist scientist, Gregory’s Dr Jekyll had chemistry with both women, one relationship tender if preoccupied, the other tactile and voracious, as the chemically altered Hyde gradually prevails, both possessed and possessive.

John Lister’s John Utterson, Kristian Gregory’s Simon Stride, Richard Noakes’s Sir Danvers Carew, Barry Whitaker’s Bishop of Basingstoke, Sarah Barker’s brothel madam, Aunt, and Esme Schofield’s Newsgirl all had their moments in a show best known for Dr Jekyll’s belter This Is The Moment.

It was enjoyable too to spot Rowntree Players’ riotous pantomime dame, Graham Smith, in a deliciously wicked cameo as Sir Archibald Proops QC, a law unto himself indeed.

Joe Gregory’s Dr Jekyll finds peace at last in the arms of Amy Gregory’s Emma in the finale to Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

1812 Theatre Company to stage Jekyll & Hyde The Musical under Julie Lomas’s direction at Helmsley Arts Centre

Natasha Jones’s Lucy and Joe Gregory’s Jekyll/Hyde in rehearsal for 1812 Theatre Company’s Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

JULIE Lomas makes her directorial debut for the 1812 Theatre Group at the helm of the Helmsley company’s ambitious production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.

The resident troupe at Helmsley Arts Centre will be performing Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s thrilling pop score there from July 5 to 9 as part of the Meeting House Court venue’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

Julie, who has a wealth of experience directing at the The Grange Theatre, Walsall, is joined in the creative team by John Atkin, a musical director who needs no introduction to York audiences.

Julie Lomas: Directing 1812 Theatre Company for the first time

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, a devoted man of science, Dr Henry Jekyll, is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve some of mankind’s most challenging medical dilemmas. Indeed, he is trying to discover cures for what now would be recognised as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Rebuffed by the powers that be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons along with the man the world would come to know as Mr Hyde.

Wildhorn’s soaring melodies offer wonderful opportunities for the performers to showcase their abilities. The two leading ladies each have their showstopping moments, but for the actor playing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the role is a breath-taking tour de force.

Sarah Barker and Esme Schofield rehearsing a scene from Jekyll And Hyde The Musical

Enter Joe Gregory, a talented musician and experienced actor, who is a stalwart of 1812’s pantomimes and latterly has appeared in Martin Vander Weyer’s Helmsley’s Whole History, Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends and David Tristram’s Going Green.

Joe will be playing opposite his wife, Amy Gregory, here cast as Jekyll’s fiancée, Emma Danvers. Amy is a “graduate” of the 1812 Youth Theatre, run by Natasha Jones, who will play Lucy, the other woman in Jekyll’s life.

Seven cast members are drawn from the youth theatre ranks, bringing their energy and skills to Julie’s production, which is sponsored by the Yorkshire Future Music Fund and Gillham Charitable Fund.

Amy Gregory’s Emma Carew in the rehearsal room

The full cast will be: Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, Joe Gregory; Emma Carew, Amy Gregory; Lucy, Natasha Jones; Utterson, John Lister; Danvers, Richard Noakes; Simon Stride, Kristian Gregory; Mrs Poole, Joanne Lister; Aunt (Brothel Madam), Sarah Barker; New Girl, Esme Schofield; Nellie (Prostitute), Sara Todd; Winnie (Prostitute) Jeanette Hambidge; Lady Beaconsfield, Sue Smith; Lady Savage, Heather Linley, and Bishop of Basingstoke, Barry Whitaker.

Further roles will be: General Glossop, Stephen Lonsdale; Sir Archibald Proops, Graham Smith; Miss Henrietta Faversham, Rosie Hayman; Jekyll’s Father, Stephen Lonsdale; Miss Louisa Pembroke, Annabelle Bridgman; Ward Orderly/Bouncer, Tom Robson, plus Dancer and Prostitute, Abigail Elliot, Millicent Neighbour, Bella Cornford, Amelia Featherstone and Charlotte Mintoft.

1812 Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Helmsley Arts Centre, July 5 to 9, 7.30pm.  Tickets: £15, under 18s, £7.50, from the arts centre or at

Taking the chair: Barry Whitaker as the Bishop of Basingstoke

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Ryedale Festival Community Song Cycle

Tenor Nicky Spence

Ryedale Festival Community Song Cycle, Church of St Peter & St Paul, Pickering, April 29

TO travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, wrote the Scottish poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. He later amplified that thought in his evocative Songs Of Travel, nine poems from which were memorably set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

That was the foundation of Ryedale’s new community song cycle entitled Give To Me The Life I Love, the opening words of Vaughan Williams’s original cycle. It was commissioned by Ryedale Festival from composer Bernard Hughes and librettist Hazel Gould, with assistance from the Richard Shephard Music Foundation. This was its world premiere.

Both composer and librettist freely admit that its primary inspiration lay in the participants themselves, who were widely canvassed in advance and largely responsible for the additional texts in the work.

The children’s chorus, which performed entirely from memory, was Ryedale Primary Choir, trained by Caius Lee, who also conducted the combined forces with considerable aplomb, not to say enthusiasm.

Shining Brass, youngsters who are training with the Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band group, sounded fully trained to these ears. Adult assistance came from Ryedale Festival Community Choir, whose director is Em Whitfield-Brooks. The only other professionals on hand were tenor Nicky Spence, appropriately a Scot, and pianist Krystal Tunnicliffe.

Inevitably Spence was at the very heart of the work’s success. Standing in the pulpit he manoeuvred his way deftly through the original songs with a strong feel for the words and stirring resonance. But whenever called upon to join the choirs he also scaled down his tone sensitively.

Tunnicliffe’s piano contributed colourful but well-blended accompaniment, as did the brass band, which was particularly smooth during an interlude that was nicely shaded.

The children’s choir contributed considerable gusto, its remarkable diction early on, in All I Need Is Just Enough, setting the tone for the whole exercise. The adult choir was less extrovert but coped well with some gentle polyphony. It would have benefited from a handful more male voices.

Hughes’s score was essentially a clever pastiche of Vaughan Williams and none the worse for that. It reached a peak in the inspirational finale where, having left Vaughan Williams behind, we encountered the full ensemble, with the soloist and adult choir looking backwards nostalgically – “I have lived and loved” – and the children looking ahead, urged by their elders to “Follow your path”. Amateurs and professionals coalesced happily.

This music will introduce the original cycle, one of the finest of all in our language, to audiences that would not normally encounter it in its usual habitat, a song recital. That alone is invaluable. It will also happily transplant to other arenas. We may just add a coda, from the golfer Walter Hagen, to Stevenson’s exhortation about travel: “Be sure to smell the flowers along the way”.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Nicky Spence is an artist in residence at this summer’s Ryedale Festival (July 14 to 30), appearing in events 12, 19 & 24. For the full programme, head to:

Four recitals promoted by Ryedale Festival were recorded by BBC Radio 3 for broadcast from May 9 to 12 at 1 p.m.

REVIEW: Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, York Musical Theatre Company

Steven Jobson’s Edward Hyde and Nicola Holliday’s Lucy Harris

York Musical Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, York Musical Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, 7.30pm tonight; 2.30pm and 7.30pm tomorrow. Box office: 01904 501935 or at

ON the only previous time CharlesHutchPress encountered Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn’s Broadway musical, at Leeds Grand Theatre in July 2011, this was his verdict.

“In a nutshell, it is a very good performance of a not particularly good musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella that has but one memorable song, This Is The Moment,” he wrote, before concluding: “A deliciously wicked way to spend tonight or tomorrow awaits you”.

Eleven years on, This Is The Moment continues to stand out, but once more, Jekyll & Hyde The Musical’s story of love, betrayal and murder hits the mark in performance, this time under the gothic-inspired direction of Matthew Clare.

The aforementioned 2011 touring production relied on the handsome pop star chops of Marti Pellow in the dual role of upstanding, if obsessive Dr Henry Jekyll and his vengeful, sadistic, chemically altered alter ego, Mr Edward Hyde.  

Director Matthew Clare

Clare goes with freelance actor, singer and voice actor Steven Jobson, whose love of performing was triggered by witnessing The Phantom Of The Opera at the age of 14, another show that ventures deep into the dark side.

Jobson can certainly act; he sings Jekyll & Hyde’s difficult, impassioned, narrative-driven songs adroitly too, and you can hear why he is a voice actor as he switches between the urbane, educated, tenor airs of the romantic scientist Jekyll and the guttural bass growl of Hyde, ably retaining the distinction in song.

In one early moment, his agitated singing voice for Hyde becomes muffled in the sound mix, but let’s put that down to this being the first night.

Jobson is equally convincing in his physical transformations, never straying into Hammer Horror melodrama. His monstrous madman always lurks within, those inner demons brought to the surface by reckless scientific brio as much as by his experiments.

Alexandra Mather vowed to make Jekyll’s trusting, unknowing fiancée, Emma Carew, more three-dimensional than on the page, and she delivers on that promise in her characterisation, while her pure, operatic voice wholly suits the score.

Nick Sephton’s Sir Danvers Carew

Director Clare has decided to split the role of love-struck but fearful prostitute Lucy Harris between York musical theatre regular and radio presenter Claire Pulpher (next performance, Saturday matinee) and Scarborough professional Nicola Holliday in her YMTC debut. Holliday was on duty on Wednesday, growing into her performance the more she sang, conveying both Lucy’s untrusting, self-protective nature and quest for love.

Strong support comes from Anthon Gardner’s lawyer John Utterson and Nick Sephton’s Sir Danvers Carew, and the ensemble relishes Bring On The Men, choreographed sassily by Hannah Wakelam.

John Atkin’s band is in good order throughout, steering the path between big balladry in the Lloyd Webber mode and a sly wickedness more in keeping with Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.

Costumes and wigs serve the primary role in evoking the Victorian era; the plain set design, by comparison, is a modern construction of metal stairways and a mezzanine level, more in keeping with a pop concert, but the use of blue lighting to denote Jekyll and red for Hyde is effective.  Everyone stands, no-one sits, such is the restless, unrelenting, unnerving progression from Jekyll to hellish Hyde.

Director Clare had called Jekyll & Hyde a “niche musical”, but he has successfully brought it out of the shadows, and in Steven Jobson he has found just the man for the job.

Review by Charles Hutchinson

Rehearsals start for York Musical Theatre Company’s May show Jekyll & Hyde The Musical. Who’s in Matthew Clare’s cast?

York Musical Theatre Company’s artwork for Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

REHEARSALS are underway for York Musical Theatre Company’s May staging of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.

“The production team were blown away by the high standard of talent that attended the two days of auditions in January, resulting in a very tough task in the casting of roles,” says company stalwart Mick Liversidge. “In fact, deliberation went on to the early hours of the morning after the final auditionee had left on the second day.

“YMTC feel that the resulting cast will deliver a fantastic show, worthy of marking the company’s 120th year. Rehearsals began on Monday and the cast couldn’t wait to get stuck into the sumptuous music of this fabulous show.”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, the epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage to the thrilling pop-rock score of Grammy and Tony Award-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double Oscar and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse.

An evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself – finds both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret.

A devoted man of science, Dr Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve the most challenging of medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers-that-be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons, along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr Hyde.

York Musical Theatre Company invite audiences to “be immersed in the myth and mystery of 19th century London’s fog-bound streets, where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling turn and twist” in the May 25 to 28 run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at For the Early Bird discount of £2 off each ticket, use the promo code JEKYLL22HYDE when booking online.

Jekyll & Hyde cast:

Dr Henry Jekyll/Mr Edward Hyde: Steven Jobson
Emma Carew:  Alexandra Mather
Lucy Harris:  Nicola Holliday & Claire Pulpher (shared role)
John Utterson:  Anthony Gardner
Sir Danvers Carew:  Nick Sephton
Simon Stride:  Matthew Ainsworth
Lady Beaconsfield:  Helen Spencer
Lady Savage: Elizabeth Vile
Archibald Proops:  Ryan Stocks
General Glossop: Rob Davies
Bishop of Basingstoke: Ryan Richardson
Spider: Ben Caswell
Nellie: Erin Keogh

Ensemble: Eleanor Anson; Faye Addy; Danar Cantrill; Ellie Carrier; Sophie Cunningham; Bethany Edwards; Rebecca Ellis; Tess Ellis; Emily Hardy; Cameron O’Dent; Frankie Nicholls; Suzanne Perkins; Victoria Rimmington; Paula Stainton; Hannah Wakelam.

Director: Matthew Clare; musical director, John Atkin; production manager, Peter Jamieson;
wardrobe, Kathryn Addison.

York Musical Theatre Company seeks new recruits for May’s Jekyll & Hyde The Musical as part of 120th anniversary celebrations

York Musical Theatre Company’s poster for next May’s production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

YORK Musical Theatre Company is seeking to attract new members to take part in next year’s exciting shows to marks its 120th anniversary.

First up will be Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, directed by Matthew Clare, with musical direction by John Atkin, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from May 25 to 28.

An introductory evening will be held on Thursday, January 6 at 7.30pm at Poppleton Methodist Church Hall. “This will be a chance for anyone interested in being involved with the show to meet the production team and chat about auditions, rehearsals, the characters, the plot and the music,” says new committee member Mick Liversidge.

“There’ll be auditions for all character and ensemble roles on Saturday, January 15, from 11am to 3pm, and Tuesday, January 18, from 7.3pm to 9.30pm, again at Poppleton.”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s thriller The Strange Case Of Jekyll And Hyde, the musical sets the gripping tale of a brilliant mind gone horrifically awry to a powerful pop-rock score by Frank Wildhorn, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

“Jekyll & Hyde The Musical should be a truly memorable show to celebrate York Musical Theatre Company’s 120th year,” says committee member and actor Mick Liversidge

In attempting to cure his ailing father’s mental illness by separating “good” from “evil” in the human personality, talented physician Dr Jekyll inadvertently creates an alternate personality of pure evil, dubbed Mr Hyde, who wreaks murderous havoc on the city of London.

As his fiancée, Emma, grows increasingly fearful for her betrothed, a prostitute, Lucy, finds herself involved dangerously with both the doctor and his alter ego. Struggling to control Hyde before he takes over for good, Jekyll must race to find a cure for the demon he has created in his own mind.

“The music for this show is sumptuous, with some fabulous moving numbers for the lead characters to perform, backing up a truly bittersweet story of love, passion, sex and murder, mixed with both the physical and mental struggles of Dr Jekyll to vindicate his medical theories,” says Mick.

To register for an audition, send an email to:
“The auditions are open to anyone who wishes to be involved in what should be a truly memorable show to celebrate York Musical Theatre Company’s 120th year,” says Mick.