by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Director Naomi Rose-Mock highlights the duality of man to deliver a shadowy mystical musical linked to history and dazzling with a little theater magic in “Jekyll & Hyde The Musical” opening at the Monticello Opera House, Oct. 27.
During the Victorian era, the poor and the aristocracy lived a divided existence. The industrialization of work and everyday life brought change that felt like the end of the world as they knew it. With a world on the brink of such change, given the opportunity, would a person take a potion to separate the “good” and “bad” qualities of their personality and societal position?
Would that division allow for a healthier version of a person, or would it lead to disaster? Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” published in 1886, provides insight into the damaging destruction of such duality.
Since then, the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have invaded our storytelling. Films, music, and theatre have all been fascinated by the dichotomy found in these characters.
In 1990, playwright Leslie Bricusse and composer Frank Wildhorn presented a new twist to a classic tale. Their musical adaptation of Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde is a robust pop-rock musical that follows the life of one man as he slides slowly into madness. The show balances the beauty and terror of life with a dissonant score that adds to the show’s sinister secrecy.
Naomi Rose-Mock, a local musical theater director, layers her own vision onto this story informed by years of directing over 150 shows. With theater as her sanctuary, she lives a life of multiplicity, wearing the hats of performer and director.
“I’ve always loved the exchange of energy between the audience and the performer, and the ephemeral nature of theatre,” says Rose-Mock. “As a director, I’m drawn to the fact that you get to create an entire world out of nothing, and it can never be done exactly the same way again.”
For this production of Jekyll & Hyde, Rose-Mock leans into the historic setting of the Monticello Opera House, which she believes is its own character. The playhouse’s gothic sensibility lends itself to the macabre, creating poignant and eerie moments within the show.
The story of Jekyll & Hyde reminds the audience of the duality in any situation by posing the question: Are humans one-dimensional, or do they carry elements of light and dark?
Originally from the United Kingdom, Rose-Mock has made Tallahassee her forever home. She arrived at Florida State University and fell in love with the trees, hills, and, most importantly, her husband. She continued developing her artistry and honed her theater-making skills by “doing.”
Rose-Mock credits her theater mentors for shaping her style and approach to directing. Her directorial debut was “Calamity Jane.”
“It was the first time in my life I literally felt like everything clicked. I loved everything about it,” says Rose-Mock. “I loved that, as a director, you get to become part teacher, part psychologist, and part event creator. I had never felt like I had loved something so much before.”
Read the rest of the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.