High School Musical Gets High Marks

Agoura High's production of the ambitious musical version of "Jekyll and Hyde" is right on.

Jekyll and Hyde The Musical, the compelling dramatic tale of good versus evil, is being performed at Agoura High School through May 3. Such a dark and controversial story would seem to be an unlikely work for a suburban high school theater department; however, director Nick Newkirk, an Agoura High alum who’s acted in local community theatre (and on the small screen), knew what he was doing.

Dark it is; however, the show’s music by Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse, with its powerful and unifying score, achieves in balancing the dual energies of intense action with lighter moments.

Junior Matt Oster plays the dual roles of the meek Dr. Jekyll and the bizarre Mr. Hyde. Portraying two completely different personalities (the monster, evil and brooding; the doctor, proper and upper-crust), no mean feat for even an experienced performer, is easily accomplished by Oster.  

He is able to maintain connecting traits in both men while conveying a oneness of the character to the audience. And how does he deliver?  He utilizes costume changes, some physical quirks and a change in tone of voice that's part Ozzie Osbourne, part Patrick Cassidy.

Senior Lacey Leininger takes on the pivotal role of Lucy, an exotic dancer desperately trying to escape her bleak life, with aplomb.

The songs in the show are all memorable. The signature solo “This is the Moment” hit the mark. Once you’ve heard that tune, it stays with you. 

The ensemble cast of this show makes the tricky “Façade” work well enough, despite their obvious youth.   Notable numbers include “Take Me As I Am” and the beautifully wrought “A New Life,” sung superbly by Leininger.

Music directors John Mosley and Chad Bloom join forces in directing the hard-working show orchestra. Choreographer Alex Lastort does justice to the rock opera-style pace, moving the production along without too much delay.

This production rings true to Robert Louis Stevenson’s original novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, published circa 1886.

This high school musical deserves a good grade.

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