LEWISTON — The new version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” coming to The Public Theatre will be “four times creepier,” thanks to inventive staging and lighting, a clever twist on characterizations and some locally generated mood music.

According to Janet Mitchko, who is directing this Oct. 16-25 production, the show is cinematic and utilizes lots of theatrical devices that enable six actors to portray nearly two dozen characters through many scenes.

In fact, four different actors play the Hyde roles, and one of them is a woman.

In a secret room in London, Dr. Jekyll experiments with exotic powders that transform him into Edward Hyde, a villain free to commit the sins Dr. Jekyll is too civilized to comprehend.

Mitchko said the use of four actors portraying Hyde allows separation in revealing the many faces of evil that lurk within the hearts of men.

“We all have an inner demon of some sort,” she said, “and ultimately the light and dark sides of our nature must find a healthy way to co-exist.”

This will be the Maine premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s version of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson chiller. It was first produced two years ago.

New York actor Peter Crosby, last seen as Father Flynn in TPT’s production of “Doubt,” will portray the tortured soul of Dr. Jekyll.

Co-starring as his primary alter ego will be Peter Simon Hilton, recently returned from the national tour of the Broadway play “Frost/Nixon.” He is a British actor who will bring Victorian London authenticity to the show, Mitchko said.

Other cast members include Sheila Stasack, James Sears, Ken Glickfeld and Sandra Blaney.

Paul G. Caron of Lewiston, a noted composer and music educator, has written music especially for TPT’s production, to underscore dialogue and facilitate transitions throughout the play. He contributed background music to TPT’s production of “Dracula” a few years ago.

Caron said he and Mitchko worked closely to fit his dark and eerie music to the scenes. He said his work makes use of strings, oboe and timpani to create sinister moods.

Caron also said he found that a xylophone provides an appropriate sharpness, “almost like bones.” He said he uses such surprises to emphasize the twists and turns of the story and to provide the goose-bump-raising music suggesting to the audience that “something is about to happen here.”

Caron digitally recorded all of the background music on his keyboard. He noted that careful coordination with the show’s technical team is necessary to cue music and sound effects with the action taking place on stage.

Jennifer Madigan designed a spooky set loaded with foggy, shadowy alleys. Bart Garvey is lighting designer.

“In my version, the roles are somewhat reversed, as are some aspects of Jekyll and Hyde themselves,” playwright Hatcher has said.  He explained that he is “trying to have some fun with the notion that Jekyll and Hyde play a cat-and-mouse game with each other, and with the question of just who we should be rooting for.”

“This play reminds us that no one is, or can be, entirely good or evil,” Mitchko said. “Human beings are complex and we must make peace with all aspects of ourselves, especially the parts that make us uncomfortable.”

Go and do
WHAT: “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
WHO: The Public Theatre
WHEN: Oct 16-18 and 22-25. Shows at 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Theater at Lisbon and Maple streets, Lewiston
TICKETS: $18 for adults, $16 for students and seniors. Call 782-3200 or visit www.thepublictheatre.org.
NOTE: There will be a free post-show discussion after the Oct. 18 matinee.


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