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October 31, 2013

A struggle between good and evil Oct. 31-Nov. 2 on Hatfield Hall stage

A tale of the struggle between good and evil as embodied in one man comes to the Hatfield Hall stage when Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Drama Club presents “Jekyll and Hyde” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Based on the classic novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson, this musical thriller follows the darkening path of Henry Jekyll. In a quest to find the cause of his father’s madness, Jekyll attempts to separate the innate goodness and evil of man, with disastrous results.

Ryan Seale plays Jekyll. The junior biomedical engineering major is no stranger to the Hatfield Hall stage. President of Rose Drama Club, Seale has performed in five productions during his Rose-Hulman career, including “Phantom of the Opera” and “Chicago.” In last fall’s production of “The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee,” he exercised his comedic chops as Barfee, the guy who spells with his “magic foot.”

Prior to Rose-Hulman, Seale participated in a variety of performances in his hometown of Owensville.

“I started singing when I was about 5. I did all the talent shows in the area. Then, I started to get into theater in middle school — I was a little kid in the high school’s productions. During high school I was completely involved in theatre and did every show.”

“My character is very obsessed with his work,” Seale says of Jekyll. When this obsession leads to dire consequences, Seale says the character remains compelling, if not exactly likable. “His ‘evil side’ breaks through as Hyde and my character becomes very unlikable. But in the end, I hope the audience will be sympathetic toward him, and the problems created by his good intentions.”

Jekyll’s love interest, Emma Carew, is portrayed by software engineering and computer science major, Samantha Staszak. As a sophomore, Staszak is a relative newcomer to Rose Drama Club, but not to performance. The San Diego, Calif., native has been singing from a very young age. Staszak describes her character as “the archetypal romantic female role: rich, desirable, and devoted.” She adds, “However, there is a certain depth to her character in that, for a woman living in the late 1800s, she is rather independent and outspoken in her own right. Emma is quite the amusing character to play because she will speak her mind and be upfront but always remain charming and polite as a lady should.”

The inherent dichotomy between good and evil is a theme woven throughout the musical, Staszak notes.

“I find it interesting that superficially Emma’s existence within the show seems to be purely dependent on Jekyll. However, Emma is actually representative of the goodness that Jekyll is searching to find in his research. The more he distances himself from her as the musical progresses, the more he succumbs to the evil inside of him.”

One unique feature of this production is the inclusion of the musical’s orchestra as a component of the stage set.

“Since we have a shorter timeframe in the fall to produce a show we decided to stage this musical as more of a concert-version,” said Bunny Nash, Drama Club director. “We don’t have dedicated set pieces and very few props — just specialized lighting, projections and special effects. The big orchestration is also an integral part of Jekyll and Hyde so it only made sense to us to place the orchestra onstage with the singers. It produces a great shared dynamic between all of the performers …”

One of those instrumentalists is senior chemical engineering major and French horn player, Geoffrey Ong. Although this is his first time performing for a Rose Drama Club production, Ong has been heavily involved in musical groups at Rose-Hulman, including concert band and a faculty/student brass quintet, as well as joining the orchestra for a Christmas concert. He has also performed with the ISU concert band.

While performing is nothing new to Ong, being part of the stage production is.

“It is very cool to be so close to the actors,” he notes. “Too often, pit orchestra members are moved out of the way, and we never get to see the show. Now we actually get to feel like we are directly involved in the production, since the singers may only be a few steps away.”

Get tickets

• Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/youth. Advance tickets may be purchased at hatfieldhall.com or by calling 812-877-8544.

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