This is NOT the moment for Dark Horse Company Theatre’s “Jekyll and Hyde”

If you are in the mood for a dark musical just in time for Halloween this may be a good choice. Jekyll and Hyde is a challenging undertaking for many reasons. It contains some great songs and memorable ballads, but a criticism of much of composer Frank Wildhorn’s works is that the songs portray states of being and do little to progress the storyline and the book of Jekyll and Hyde is lacking in many ways. When writing is weak and actors are faced with many ballads that reveal very little information or repeat the same message over and over in different keys, then the actors must perform exceptionally well and kind of make up for these deficiencies through clear objectives, a variety of tactics and real discoveries to pull it off. A good director can make up for the weak script by making strong choices and filling the scenes with a clear subtext.

In order for Jekyll and Hyde to be successful two things must be present: very strong directing and detailed choices to compensate for the lacking material, and a strong dimensional actor playing Dr. Jekyll. Unfortunately this production was not up for the challenge and failed on both accounts.

First the directing was unclear. Many of the subplots were lost and difficult to follow mainly due to the underdeveloped script, but the directing did little to compensate for this deficiency. There were many unanswered questions for me, such as “why was Dr. Jekyll so driven in his experiment that he was willing to sacrifice everything in his life to accomplish it?” Presumably to save his father –that he was convinced evil was responsible for his father’s condition– but this relationship and subplot was not developed. Or “what made Emma so in love with Henry Jekyll that she was willing to stay by his side in spite of his obsession and neglect of her?” Or for that matter, “why did Lucy fall in love so quickly with Henry Jekyll?”

Next, the pacing of the show was too slow. Act one really dragged and the scenes had very little to no shaping. They also seemed to end abruptly with no clear finish. Many of the group numbers, while having a nice blend to them by the ensemble, failed to reach a level of excitement or intensity to them. Such big numbers such as “Murder, Murder” really fell flat.

Secondly, there was a general absence of clear relationship between the characters. The stage combat was lacking and didn’t have the intensity or believability needed to look real. They looked just like that, “staged fight scenes.” The staging was a bit void of variety and the blocking did not create interesting pictures or levels needed to accentuate the storytelling. As a result the production was fairly boring, one-dimensional and did not reach the synergy or momentum needed to be successful.

As I mentioned, the principal character Dr. Jekyll either makes or breaks the show. And in this case he broke it. I was very disappointed in Daniel T. Simons’ performance. I felt that this was poor casting. I had trouble believing him as either Jekyll or Hyde. It is my understanding that this role was pre-cast, as Mr. Simons is the Artistic Director and a Founder of Dark Horse Company Theatre. I don’t believe that he would have been cast in this role in an open casting call. Though Mr. Simons had a very nice singing voice—well trained with proper technique, he in no way encompassed the passionate, obsessed yet charismatic Henry Jekyll. Physically he was very weak. Also, he did not have the edge or danger as Hyde either, and I never felt that he was 100% committed to either character. There was not nearly enough variety between the two characters and consequently it was not the least bit believable that his close friends would not have recognized him as Henry Jekyll when he was interacting with them as Edward Hyde. I could only suspend my disbelief so much. I wanted to see a much greater contrast in his physicality and energy in the two different roles. Mr. Simons played it way too safe. I wanted more risks, greater intensity, stronger choices and an overall greater intensity and commitment to his objectives. Dr. Jekyll needs to become so obsessed and so driven and passionate for his cause that it consumes him. I did not see this passion develop which is absolutely critical for the transformation and emergence of Hyde. The lack of choices and objectives were especially evident in many of Simons’ solos. His most powerful ballad and most famous song of the show “This is the Moment” was especially disappointing. The entire number was on one level and lacked excitement and builds and therefore was anti-climatic. Additionally “Confrontation” needed greater contrast and to move at a faster pace. In general, Simons ranged between a mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte dynamic in his songs (and arguably his acting choices as well). I really wanted to see him raise the stakes; we needed pianissimos, fortes, and greater variety with clearer choices. The choices made were too subtle to come across effectively. Because of these reasons I felt very little empathy for Dr. Jekyll and I did not feel the fear or danger of Mr. Hyde.

Next onto a few of the supporting characters. Lucy Harris (Ginger Bess) was probably the strongest principal of the show. She has a powerful and well-trained voice and did a nice job with “Someone Like You.” However, I wanted more choices from her as well. I had trouble seeing the chemistry between her and Dr. Jekyll. Their relationship was not clear and I did not see her journey throughout the play or understand what she saw in Dr. Jekyll. I also wanted to see a greater level of fear from her when interacting with Mr. Hyde.

 

Emma Carew (Michelle Blake) also had a nice voice, but she confused me. Stylistically she did not seem to fit with the rest of the show. Her style and portrayal of Emma seemed a bit stiff and she came across as a visitor from the opera world or perhaps a Gilbert and Sullivan character, but certainly not a character in contemporary musical theatre. This was especially evident in comparison to the rest of the characters and this incongruity was distracting. Her duet with Henry Jekyll: “Take me as I Am”, failed to reveal the love or passion she had for him. They were void of chemistry and their relationship was very shallow.

I was especially disappointed with the portrayal of Simon Stride (Craig Williams). I felt that he was too weak for the role. I had a lot of trouble believing him as the abusive lover of Lucy. I wanted more grit and masculine energy from him. His physicality and energy needed upped considerably.

 

A few of the supporting characters that deserve mentioning include John Utterson (DRU), Sir Danver Carew (Jim Dale) and Sir Archibald Proops (Aleksndr Arteaga). DRU brought a believability and sincerity as the conflicted yet loyal friend of Dr. Jekyll. I believed his relationship and he brought a nice variety of tactics and dimension to this role. Jim Dale brought out the concerned and loving father to Emma and had some nice moments. Aleksndr Arteaga, as Sir Archibald Proops, had one of the most powerful voices of the evening and energized many of the scenes during his solos with his rich baritone voice.

A few other positive aspects of the show were the set and costumes. Kevin Dudley did a fantastic job with the space and created an interesting and dimensional set that helped the mood of the show. The costumes were creative and colorful. Katie Miller’s costume designs added much to story and time period as well.

The orchestra was decent, but the keyboards tried to substitute for many of the instruments, which created a synthesized sound reminiscent of the ‘80’s. The sound was not always balanced with the singers and I would have liked to turn up the singers and orchestra up a few notches.

I am generally a fan of Dark Horse Company Theatre productions and was very excited to see this show. However, I was disappointed, as this production did not come close to my expectations. Kind of like a movie with a lot of hype that you go to and it doesn’t measure up. I have seen Jekyll and Hyde twice, once on Broadway and once at a professional dinner theatre. This is by far the weakest version I have seen (unless you include the video recording of Jekyll and Hyde with David Hasselhoff as Dr. Jekyll). A lacking script, combined with a flat Dr. Jekyll and weak directing will lead to a disappointing and long evening. I think that viewers will enjoy the music and talented singers, but will have difficulty following the plot and will not become fully engaged in the story.

Dark Horse Company Theatre’s JEKYLL & HYDE performs at The Egyptian Theatre in Park City, October 18-29, 2012. Tickets are Reserved Seating: $25 Advance/$30 Door
Front-of-House Seating: $30 Advance/ $35 Door; Cabaret Seating: $40 Advance/$45 Door – available online or at the Egyptian Theater Box Office.

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36 Responses to This is NOT the moment for Dark Horse Company Theatre’s “Jekyll and Hyde”

  1. Nicholas says:

    I find it especially interesting that professional reviewers from the local newspapers gave this show 2 thumbs up and five stars, and you, an amateur reviewer, were scathing. I think you are simply someone that is overly critical simply to sound like you know what you are talking about.

    I also LOVE how you critique the company for not making up for a script that is weak by presenting stronger directing choices, yet you give absolutely no example of how that would be portrayed or achieved. I am going to have to take every single thing you said in this review with a grain of salt.

  2. Max says:

    So nice to see some good, honest reviewing! I hate sugar-coating! Well written and well critiqued.

  3. Johnny Hebda says:

    Nicholas, I am sorry that you were offended by my review. I’m sure that you worked hard on the show or had a relative in the show. I will not take offense to your personal attacks, I am use to that when I post a review that is negative. Its only my opinion. But several of the leads in the show were equity actors, so I think it is very fair to hold them to a professional standard as their equity membership indicates they are. But I am far from an amateur reviewer as you have indicated. And the reviews that you referenced were not actually positive, Blair Howell is much more gentle in his criticism than I, but I definitely got a different message in reading the subtext in his review. The Utah Theatre Bloggers also gave the show a negative review. I have studied this art all my life and I do not think that I am off base. I am working on my 4th theatre degree right now and I am a member of SAG, as well as having performed in more than 70 productions nationally in professional, university and community theatres.

    I would recommend you reading the following article that I think is very useful in understanding the role of critics and reviewers: http://utahtheaterbloggers.com/12316/what-if-there-were-no-critics

    I love Dark Horse Company Theatre productions and I am a huge advocate of community theatre in Utah both through my own participation and financial backing of projects. I speak honestly and directly when I review. You are free to read my other reviews, many of which are positive. If I said every production I reviewed was “amazing and shouldn’t be missed,” that would do very little in helping theatres or actors in the area improve and would really destroy any credibility that I have.

    We only post reviews when a theatre organization asks us to. If a theatre doesn’t want honest feedback then don’t ask for a review or just have the cast or friends or family post reviews about how wonderful the show is. I will believe in objectivity and say it as I see it.

  4. Karen says:

    Considering this reviewer’s critical eye and his claimed three degrees in theatre (soon to be four), I look forward to reading the rave reviews for Side Show in January.

    He will be directing it. And I couldn’t imagine any director of his expertise producing anything less than the best production Utah County sees all season. It should be very interesting to see if the show meets my high expectations.

  5. Disappointed Patron says:

    For the most part, I agree wholeheartedly with this review. I was so so excited to see this play, and could not believe the amateur performances and miscasting my husband and I played $50 to see. It was very hard to sit through a performance with absence of any kind of passion, emotion, or depth in an actor that, as you said, is desparately needed in the character of Dr. Jekyll. It seriously pains me to say anything negative about anyone who puts themself out there and puts so much obvious work and time into this kind of a role, but it needs to be said and this reviewer most definitely knows what he is talking about. I don’t know how this play got positive reviews by any critic, especially a ‘professional’ one. Yes, the singing was unbelievably good, especially from the two women and the chorus, but the lack of objectives overall, especially in Dr. Jekyll made this show hard to watch.
    With all of that, the audience on the night we went gave this show a standing ovation, and it sounds like it is being well received for the most part. But I have to thank Mr. Hebda for his thorough, well thought-out, and spot-on critique of this play. I feel like if I am going to drive up to Park City and spend my hard-earned money, I deserve to see something worth my time and considerable effort.

  6. Tina says:

    Why do you need for degrees in theatre? Maybe you need them I guess. . . Seriously… don’t understand. Bachelors degree….. MFA… Ph d? Maximum three.

  7. Anna says:

    I agree with most of this review and did not find it overly (or maliciously) unkind. The only area I strongly disagree with the reviewer is in the costuming, which I found to be a distracting mess. I too found this to be the weakest of the Jekyll and Hyde productions I’ve seen.

  8. Loved It says:

    I loved Jekyll & Hyde. The ensemble was as strong as any you will see at Pioneer and stronger than any you will see at Hale. The vocals were on a Broadway level. The leads were convincing and the supporting cast did very well, especially considering the weak book of the show rushing to get from one song to the next.

    Anyone who has seen a lot of theatre both in and out of Utah can appreciate how rare it is in this state to enjoy an incredibly talented ensemble… from top to bottom. I agree that local reviews can be overly positive, but this review is totally off.

    One of the few things Mr. Hebda praises are the costumes… Umm, the costumes were not good. There was no consistency in choice of time period, especially for the men.

    Second, it is a glaring flash of unprofessionalism to ever assert that an actor would not have been cast under different circumstances. Believe me, there are a lot of actors being cast in roles at Pioneer, Hale, and most other Utah companies that make us all scratch our heads… but Daniel Simons and his strong vocal chops defiinitely could and would earn him this role in an open casting call.

    Is Hebda upset that he didn’t get to audition for the role? He sounds like a sulking teenager who didn’t get the lead in his school play.

    I agree with Karen’s comment. With so much harsh criticism for the direction of Jekyll & Hyde, we should all expect Hebda’s directing to be off the charts. I guess we’ll find out in January.

  9. Ricky says:

    I find this article to be very negative. It makes me not trust the critic… What shows did the critic enjoy?

  10. Johnny Hebda says:

    Of all the reviews I write its always the negative ones that get all the attention. I’m confused why I am getting all the personal attacks trying to discredit me in some way. Not one of the people that disliked my review have stated anything of any consequence. I welcome other opinions, but I haven’t heard any. If you thought that I was too harsh in my review or too critical, please share what you think I was too critical about. If you disagreed with my critique of a particular actor or aspect of the production, please share why you disagree. Its extremely unprofessional to attack the reviewer. I go into each show completely objective and try to give my honest opinion on what I see. I can only express things from my perspective and experience. I welcome others opinions about the show. But again, I haven’t heard any opinion from anyone that disagreed with my review. Did someone feel that this was a strong production? If so, why did you feel that way? Was someone impressed with the actor playing Dr. Jekyll? Those are the types of comments that should be here. Not comments calling me names or attacking me for expressing my opinion. That really does no good for anyone does it?

  11. Karen says:

    Calling you names, Johnny Hebda? I owe you an apology because calling you ‘director’ or ‘expert’ was somehow offensive?

    I enjoyed Simons as Jekyll. That flawless voice! “Confrontation” was stunning. The lighting was a cherry on top. I thought he showed great contrast in his demonstrations of affection to Emma and lust towards Lucy. His performance wasn’t perfect, I agree. But he played the difficult role well.

    The ensemble, alone, was worth the ticket price for me. Wow! The vocals in “Facade” and “Murder, Murder” blew me away. Lucy and Emma’s duet was so beautifully simplistic that the whole audience was soaked in. And the scene in which a certain character may or may not get stabbed… was creepy Halloweeny.

    Your review on Simon Stride is off, too. I thought the actor was deliciously slimy. He wasn’t playing physical prowess he was playing sleezy and hypocritical. Maybe that’s not your personal cup of tea, but I wanted to punch Stride in the face.

    Your review is what it is. Yes, others of us liked the show… including other reviews. There is no need for you to whine and moan about your review being reviewed. It’s the name of the game.

    Like I said, I look forward to seeing Side Show in January. Where shall I send my review?

  12. Rick says:

    Thanks for saying it like it is.

  13. Johnny Hebda says:

    One final comment and then I will leave this. I respect all various opinions and I would love for any of you to come and see Side Show in January and I would love to hear your feed back on the show, whether positive or negative.

    I get tired of reading fluffy reviews that are too often given by reviewers and critics here in Utah because of all the attacks that come if somewhere dares to speak out and say that they felt that the show was weak or an actor did not perform well. I myself through the years have been the subject of negative reviews from time to time. My initial reaction when I receive a negative review (especially in my early years) is to become defensive and just discredit the reviewer. But I have matured and can honestly say that I have grown as an actor and a director the most when a critic has dared to point out things that he or she did not like about my performance or direction when I have considered their perspective with an open mind. As an actor or director, I have put my heart and soul into my work, as I know many people did in this production.

    Specific and direct feedback like this is what I feel will help productions, theater organizations and actors to improve. And in general raise the bar here in Utah for the arts. I am just as generous in my praise when a production is strong or an actor really moves me with his performance.

    So unless you want Utah to become like College Station, Texas as mentioned on Utah Theatre Bloggers (See link: http://utahtheaterbloggers.com/12316/what-if-there-were-no-critics ) where every production received a positive review no matter how terrible the show was and consequently this led to the quality of theatre to diminish and attendance to decline, then I would suggest that patrons encourage critical feedback and limit comments when a “negative review” is given to a discussion about what they did or did not agree with in the review. Theatre critics and reviewers should feel free to express their opinion honestly and openly. I would want nothing else as an actor or director if someone was reviewing me or one of my productions, whether I agreed with them or not, I want their honest opinion. I put many hours into writing my reviews and I will always give my honest opinion of what I see and observe whether it offends someone or not. That is how a review should be–HONEST–and say it as it from the opinion and perspective of the reviewer. I hope others will dare to speak up and write a negative review from time to time if the show warrants it, even if you have to receive some personal attacks and repercussions (people are always really nasty when they can post anonymous comments online I’ve noticed). It will make the shows that really are phenomenal and well done seem more genuine when they receive a positive review and help patrons in Utah know which shows are really worth their time and money to see. This weekend alone there are about 18 shows (that I know of) that are playing throughout Utah. How would a theatre patron decide which one to go and see if all the reviews for the 18 shows are “phenomenal and not to be missed.” And how is that being fair to the shows that really are stand out to not distinguish them from the ones that are sub par? That’s my thoughts on all of this!

    If you want an honest and direct review please invite me to come to review your show. If its an amazing production I will shout it from the rooftops and be extremely generous with my praise and give specific/detailed examples of why I was moved or impressed. But if you want a fluffy, overly positive or generic review of the show regardless of of what I see it, I’m not your man. But in Utah there are plenty of other people that will give you one of those type of reviews.

  14. Stef says:

    It is understandable that one might feel uncomfortable by a negative review even if they were not directly involved in the show. It is also understandable that those who enjoyed the show be allowed to challenge that review with their opinion. What should not be acceptable is to attack the person behind the opinion. After all the key word in all of this is opinion. One thing we need to remember is the intention behind all things. Was it the reviewer’s intention to hurt the feelings of those involved in the show? I doubt it. The purpose of a review is something the author touched on in his last comment post: providing insight into their own experience with the show thus giving the patron one angle to determine the best fit for their viewing pleasure.
    It seems like we get enough of this “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality with politics. There is no such thing as right or wrong in opinionated events, if there was it would mean the “right” person would be the supreme being and we all know that isn’t the case. One of the greatest things about individuality is that, at the end of the day, the patron who reads both ends of the review will most likely not even agree 100% with either side but side with pieces of both.
    Creativity is a beautiful thing let’s not muck it up by getting personal.

  15. Karen says:

    To Stef:

    Reviews are personal. Auditions are personal. Performances are personal. That is the nature of this business.

    “You would be great for the role if you lost 40 pounds first.”… But don’t take it personally.

    The choice to play any role on stage is one of putting yourself out there and taking on a very personal experience to express your art to an audience. The choice to review a performance is also one of putting yourself out there to be critiqued by those who read your review.

    I don’t have any friends in this production but I really liked Jekyll & Hyde. I’ve lived in 8 different states. From what I’ve seen in Utah, this production is way above average or mediocre.

    For me, this review is offensively off the mark and condescending. I’m very involved in the local theater community, and if I were to run into Johnny Hebda at an audition I would not want to work with him. I haven’t ever met him but I can make that judgment solely from his poor critique of this production.

    If we are all going to cry out for an increase in “less favorable” reviews in our community, then we also have to accept the readers of those reviews giving a “less favorable” review to the reviewer. It’s not personal, it’s business.

  16. Halloween Chills says:

    I agree with Karen’s comments. This Jekyll & Hyde is one you will want to see. Backstageutah should seriously reconsider publishing this guy’s reviews. I hope they aren’t paying him to write this nonsense.

  17. admin says:

    Dear Mr. “Chills”,

    Johnny volunteers as a reviewer both out of the goodness of his heart, but also because he wants to see all that Utah theatre has to offer. The goal of his reviews are, and always have been, to provide constructive feedback to the company and performers, and to give his HONEST OPINION of the production. Rest assured, were there a budget with which to pay reviewers, Johnny would be permanently on staff. Primarily because he does give a complete honest opinion and does not pull his punches.

    He has also been forthright, honest and polite in his unnecessary defense of his review. Something I know I would not have been. I would have said something along the lines of: “I’m sorry to hear about what must have been a traumatic brain injury to you, I can think of no other reason why you would want to write such vitriol over someone else’s opinion of a production…” But like I said, that’s just me, and you’re lucky to be dealing with Johnny on this one.

    And Karen, You would NEVER want to work with Johnny on a production based on his review that you happen to disagree with? I think that someone that observant, that critical of the entire production, and someone who won’t let the “pretty voice” override the acting… that’s a director I want to work with. Particularly because he is very good at pointing to specifics. I have worked with several directors who have told me I need to “fix what I am doing” but can’t give me a specific. Johnny can. I’ve never worked with him until he contacted me asking to review for my site. I hope to work with him in many capacities in the future.

  18. Halloween Chills says:

    His defense of his review was unnecessary, I agree. He had his moment when he published the review.

    I’m with Karen. Who is this Johnny character? I’ve disagreed with a lot of reviews I’ve read from the NY Times on down. But this review? Wow!

    I already give more creedence to the reviews I read from The Tribune, Deseret News, City Weekly, UtahTheaterBloggers, and The Examiner over the reviews posted here.

    My suggestion to you, Backstageutah, is to boost the credentials of your reviews with better quality reviewers. But after Admin’s comments, I’ll have to dismiss the reviews section of your site entirely.

    I’m curious, Admin–Have you seen the production in question? Maybe you should.

  19. admin says:

    Who is this Johnny character? I think he covered that in his own comments, so I’ll encourage you to just re-read it. I think he covers that question pretty well. And I think the credentials of my reviews are held up just fine with reviewers like Johnny Hebda. I’ve had far more people say to me how happy they were that he says it like it is, rather than sugar coat the review. And I’m sorry that your feelings got hurt by my comments, Chills. I mean I was just calling you out for badmouthing my reviewer and my integrity. I guess I should have just let that one go, huh?

    As for the other reviewers you’ve mentioned that you would give more credence to: Utah Theatre Bloggers didn’t exactly give this production a glowing review, calling it half good and half bad. The Tribune seemed to enjoy it, as you and some of the other commenters seemed to, so OK. The Deseret News had a nice headline but compared Simon’s acting to William Shatner, and said he was at least better than David Hasselhoff… again, not exactly glowing. I didn’t see reviews from City Weekly or the Examiner in my 30 second Google search (which was far too much time to spend on this, I admit, but I do like to be thorough), but that’s neither here nor there… the question is, Chills, what’s really important here?

    You’ve said you liked it and you disagree with our reviewer, fine. You’ve said your say. Many people have, including the Tribune reviewer. So does that mean you should get huffy, turn into an internet troll, and bad mouth the reviewer as a person for his one opinion? Or would it just have been, I don’t know, NICER to say: “I disagree with the reviewer. I found Simon’s performance riveting and the entire production was both professional and entertaining. Well worth the price of the ticket.” Wow, so much better.

    As Kevin Smith says at the end of every episode of “Spoilers”: “don’t listen to me or what anyone else thinks, go buy a ticket and decide for yourself.” And that’s what I encourage you to do. Whether the show, ANY show, is reviewed as a tour de force or a train wreck, local theatre needs your support, so go out and support it, and decide for yourself.

  20. Halloween Chills says:

    An internet troll? Hmmmm… I think to this point, I have commented on this review as much as Johnny Hebda has. Does that make him a troll of his own review?

    I love your logic in praising this review for “saying it like it is” and then condemning me for my opinion of your reviewer.

    Let me just echo Nicholas’s comment. A critic who chooses to be overly critical to appear to know what they are talking about might fool most. He doesn’t, however, fool me. Instead, he makes the entity publishing his reviews look silly.

    Your defensive attitude over something you couldn’t spend more than 30 seconds looking into yourself does a decent job speaking for your integrity, itself. Forgive me for saying it like it is. It is a symptom of the “traumatic brain injury” I suffered as a child.

    We should assume that your defensive attitude is because you know for yourself that this review “says it like it is” since you have seen the show and you agree? Yes?

  21. Karen says:

    Thank you, Chills.

    Admin, I’ve disagreed with many reviews before. An opinion is an opinion and art is subjective. I didn’t think the production was flawless. I did think it was quite good.

    My issue with Johnny is that he is clearly the type of artistic critic that tears others apart to build himself up. There are many others out there like him. And no, that is not the type of artist I ever care to work with.

  22. Johnny Hebda says:

    Ok. I know I wasn’t going to post anything else or respond to Mr. Chills or Karen, but I received an email from one of the “professional reviewers” that read my article who also reviewed the show in one of the major newspapers. I won’t reveal this person’s name. But I am going to paste what they said after reading my review. I think they have to be much more careful in writing reviews for newspapers so that the paper doesn’t get people’s mommy’s writing the paper if their son gets a bad review. But here is what he or she wrote me today (I will keep the author anonymous): So just fyi and then I promise not to write anymore as I am sure Karen and Mr. Chills will have more to say 🙂

    “I loved your review. It was dead-on. (Except the costumes were mostly horrid. The guy without a jacket and only a scarf around his neck?)

    Very impressed with your professionalism in responding to the comments. It is VERY clear that all the comments came from cast members.”

  23. jesse ranney says:

    I found the play to be rather horrid, however it gave me the opportunity to reminisce about my third grade school play which had similar acting but much better directing.

  24. Erik Estrada says:

    I would rather poke my eyes out while making out with Rosie O’Donnell than sit through this again. Hyde was horrible.

  25. Chills Out says:

    I think I’ll let Johnny Hebda take the last word on this. It is clear that if anyone dares to further question his dead-on and non-constructive critique, these ridiculous comments could go on for another month.

  26. Karen says:

    Yes. Johnny, I do have a friend involved in the production. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t read reviews until a show has closed. He’ll likely just laugh this one off.

    You may want to let your anonymous newspaper friend know that many of us who are mommies know how to read newspapers AND the internet too. Shocking, I know.

    My last word of wisdom for you would be to remember that it is a small theater community where someone’s reputation can easily be discovered. Don’t quit your day job.

  27. Ricky says:

    Woah, I am not a cast member… check my IP address! Accusations aside… It was not a Broadway show, but it was a good expression. It has merit. Some people like it, others do not… can we just get over each other and be happy we don’t have to work together on a production!? 🙂

  28. Lady M says:

    I saw a production of Jekyll and Hyde a few years ago in Payson and it suffered from many similar issues, one of which is the crappy script. As a writer and actress myself, I have been panned by critics on both sides — well, the shows I’ve been in.
    When I’ve written a review that was much the same as this one –little good to say, from what I understand, the director had all their cast members write nasty comments on the blog. I have to say that this is the height of unprofessionalism! Nothing makes a person look smaller, less tolerant and plain whiny than crabbing about a negative review! Some people will like this show, some won’t. And too, some people will like your review, some won’t.
    While Johnny’s review is very detailed and quite negative, he does highlight those things he liked in the play, and his points are well taken. First, the show cost 50 bucks! I’ve seen excellent stuff for $10 and if this is as bad as he says and I paid $50, I’d be super upset. And because some of the actors there are equity, I’m sure his expectations were higher, as well they should be. Wish *I* was equity! I’ve yet to get a bad review of any performance I’ve done so, um…
    Further, he responds with respect, dignity and a good sense of open-mindedness. I see no rancor.
    For those who were panned–take the criticism. It will help you improve your performances. ~Or~ ignore it and have fun in your show. The world will still turn even if every critic on the planet doesn’t love your every breath.
    Play on, fellow theater lovers!

  29. Nicholas says:

    I also am not a cast member, nor do I have a relative in the show. But I did see it on its opening night as I have been anticipating this production for many months, and I am here again tonight, as the show is about to start, seeing it again, because I do feel that it is worth my $35 ticket.

    Johnny, I disagree with your review, and admin, I have list all respect for backstage utah because I your comments. You were more immature and childish in your comments than Johnny was in his review.

    I Stand by what I said originally. I feel Johnny was overly critical simple to feed his own ego and make himself sound more knowledgeable than he truly is. Admin, The fact that you are telling people to simplify their reviews of this review is ridiculous. Johnny was allowed to post a full review, made public for the Internet. If you don’t like the fallout and don’t like that people are posting full reviews of his review, then you have no business in the blogging business.

    I will no longer ever patronize backstageutah.com, nor pay any heed to any backstageutah reviews.

  30. Cooper Howell says:

    I cant even BELIEVE how much press this review has gotten!

    There is no such thing as 5 stars and two thumbs up in a Utah review board.

    Also, When someone is invited to come and review the show he is obligated to give his opinion about the show. End of story. He isnt required to be nice. Hes required to be honest. Period.

    There is no need for childishness. And Im sure some audience members will disagree with Johnny but this is what he was asked to do and he didnt. I dont see what the issue is here? AND ive heard a lot people say the same things about the show. I havent seen it so I have no opinion. It sucks that so many people were offended but, again, its a review. Try reading Ben Brantley of the New York Times reviews. He CLOSES Broadway shows if he didnt connect with it… and hes paid millions of dollars. Thats the point of reviewing. So judge the art of reviewing and not reviewers.

    🙂 Welcome to theater.

  31. admin says:

    Before you go Nicholas, a few things:

    1. Once you have mastered basic grammar and spelling we can talk about who is more childish.

    2. I wasn’t asking anyone to “simplify” their reviews. Nothing like missing the ENTIRE point there, Nick. So I guess ONCE AGAIN I will reiterate: I could care less whether you disagree with the review or not, and when it comes to the personal attacks against Johnny: questioning his integrity, scholarship, and general capability as a reviewer, I figured Johnny is a big boy and could handle it, and he did defend himself very well, as you pointed out.

    I would have likely stayed out of this if that were the case, but then there was Halloween Chills’ comment: “Backstageutah should seriously reconsider publishing this guy’s reviews. I hope they aren’t paying him to write this nonsense.” Which I read as a question of my integrity. Of course “Chills” chose to double-down on his insults towards me in his reply, which brought out a bit more of my ire. I figure if you’re going to personally attack me or one of my people, then that means I get to do that to you as well. Was that immature of me to defend myself against the slings and arrows of outrageous (or raging) idiots? If so, then I guess I’m guilty.

    3. This is NOT a blog. This is a website set up as a FREE resource to the Utah theatre community. I just happen to use WordPress for the Reviews section, so you can comment. Which, based on this review, is working out pretty well for me, thank you (you personally, Nick) very much. We offer much more than just reviews, but now that you’re boycotting, I guess you’ll never learn much more about that. A shame.

    4. You are welcome to pay nothing to nor for Backstage Reviews, they are freely distributed. As are our Auditions postings, which, if you’re an actor, is going to be a sad thing to miss in your boycott of this site.

    And finally: the post I originally wrote after Chills decided to “double-down” on me was much harsher, much more inflammatory and contained the adult language I normally use when I spout invectives and vitriol. But then I chose to lighten up my response, and simply point out how ineffective his argument was. But I guess that was really immature and I just should have written something like “oh, you disagree with me? Well, you’re a stupid stoopidhead, is what you are!” Yeah, in hindsight I guess that would have been a much more mature move.

    Anyway, enjoy your boycott, and don’t let the door hit ya where the dog shoulda bit ya as you leave.

  32. Stephen says:

    I saw this production a week ago and was excited to the show as I’m a big fan of the music. I’ve seen this production several times, including local and national touring productions. So after spending $30 a ticket, I was expecting a great show. The show depends on having a strong Jeckyll / Hyde in order to work. Although the lead had a great singing voice, his character was completely unbelievable. His choices were weak. What surprised me even more was to see that intermission when I read his bio that he was an equity actor. My wife and I, who have both been involved in theatre for over 30+ years, commented that just about any of the other men would’ve been far better in the leading role.

    There were other moments in the show when there were staging choices where I was surprised and in fact a few times laughed because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing (i.e. – when one of the characters was stabbed dead, and then got up and ran off stage).

    Finally, when I read the review, all I could think of was just how much I agreed with the reviewer.

  33. Utah Audiences says:

    Reading through these comments, several of you mention the price of the ticket for this production.

    A few years back in New York, my husband and I paid $35 each for a ticket to stand through an entire production of Chicago starring Ashley Simpson. (It was New Years Eve and the only matinee available for us to see.) As you’d expect, she was not good.

    Whatever umph the Chicago revival had when it first opened on Broadway, it certainly didn’t have that night. I left the show feeling pretty “meh” about it. Yet, not once did it cross my mind that I had wasted $35. There was some nice singing, acting choices, choreography, staging, costumes and lighting for me to enjoy.

    Dear Utah, a great show is not determined by the price of the ticket you pay. The word of mouth we have heard about even just the ensemble of Jekyll & Hyde made the show sound worth the price of a ticket. We wish our schedule would have allowed us to see it.

  34. Hannah says:

    COMPLETELY agree with Hebdon-except the costumes were awful!!!!

  35. Amused says:

    You guys are all hilarious! I actually forgot there was a critic at the beginning of this post! Ha!
    I’ve worked with Johnny and he’s pretty great, and he doesn’t just hate on all shows, he also wrote the review of Sweeney Todd and it was pretty great, let’s not take it all so personal or bitter, everyone has their right, if you don’t agree, then be gracious and say thank you and just walk away with it.
    So ridiculous….

  36. Disappointed Patron says:

    To Tina,

    Why do you need degrees in theater? This question makes me so so sad, on many levels. I am sure you were just asking, but oh….
    There are about a million reasons, and having just finished mine, I can give you a few. Any degree in the arts is the most difficult because not only do you put in as much time as a medical student, but you are certain to make a tenth of the annual income as any doctor. I would say my average day at school when a production was going on was about 16 hours, including many weekends, and I didn’t see my family hardly at all during the school year. I have never gone thru anything more difficult or sacrificed so much money, time, and emotional energy in my life as I have getting my one degree in theater. And with that, I still feel like I have barely scratched the surface and have been auditioning for master’s programs “in theater”. And yes, you can get a master’s and a doctorate, but you can also get multiple bachelors degrees in various aspects of theater: acting, directing, stage management, set design, costume design, etc, etc.

    So for you and the rest of you haters, when Mr Hebda says he has multiple theater degrees, you better be sure he knows what he is talking about. Not only does the critic’s multiple theater degrees say to me that he cares deeply for this craft, but it also says that he most certainly knows what he is talking about. Anyone who dedicates ALL of their time and considerable financial commitment to obtaining this much training should be respected, regardless of whether or not you agree with him. He has put in the time and commitment to have the right to say it how it is.
    I only have one theater degree, but as I stated before, I felt exactly the same way as Johnny about this production, and most of what he pointed out that did not work in this production comes from his formal training.
    In the theater community world, there is a lot of self-congratulation and inflation of the production you are involved in: Everyone in the cast is the most amazing thing out there and you are sure your show is the best thing that has ever happened to community theater. I was part of that too, and find it very hard to look back at how amateur my past work was before I finally got some training.
    Theater is one of the hardest art forms to make work- so much collaboration is involved, life performances are unpredictable, and many things have to come together to make a show successful. This production simply did not work, and its just sad that so many people feel that this was a fine piece of theater, especially when you know what it could have been.

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