Twenty-Five years ago, Pittsburgh Musical Theater (PMT) opened its doors to a city that was still cultivating its arts scene. Now, the second largest arts community in the nation, only second to New York, Pittsburgh offers a diverse palette of theater, visual arts, dance, and other mediums. Also within those 25 years, PMT has become a juggernaut in the independent theater scene. Their philosophies are to cultivate and encourage talent to reach for the stars, but to also put those very philosophies into action, on the largest stage as possible.
Go big or go home.
And with that, as their latest season kicks into high gear, they offered their students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform on one of the most storied stages in Pittsburgh, The Byham Theater, as the company’s conservatory program presented Jekyll and Hyde, a story of misaligned hope, faith in mankind, and the malevolent intentions that plague us all in our fight between good and evil.
The show, directed by Jennifer Lybarger, follows Dr. Henry Jekyll, a doctor with a soft spot for humanity. His constant journey to find the good in all leads him to a volatile crossroads, meandering down a path of utter destruction as he toiled with demons that ultimately controlled his every move. An abysmal existence of hope for the hopeless, Jekyll squanders a fate that leads to reprehensible consequences.
Brecken Farrell as Jekyll and Hyde bellowed from the stage with his breathy and powerful register. Farrell’s voice has another gear that he visited often, much to the delight of the audience. His malignant transformation between Jekyll and Hyde was convincing and conflicting. He was in every form, electric.
Addison Albert as Emma offered an elegantly soft portrayal of the counter-culture to Jekyll’s verbose and somewhat delusional grandiosity. Grounded in her truth, Emma is a staunch supporter of her femininity and fervor. Albert’s voice soothed the senses as she effortlessly traveled though each number. Magnificent in every way.
Mia Schmidtetter owned the role of Lucy, bringing her big vocals to what I would consider the most vocally challenging role of the production. Lucy was conflicted and somewhat an innocent bystander in her fate. Although a lady of the night, her vulnerability shined through. Schmidtetter’s ability to transition gave the audience an auditory cornucopia of awesome. She rocked.
The 82-member orchestra of CAPA, a performing arts school in the heart of the cultural district, was conducted by Bernard Black. They pushed the envelope for live music and the accompaniment was well received and flawlessly executed. Nailed it.
The set and costumes were indicative of the time period. Well polished and believable. Lighting was moody and unsettling, just the way it should be.
Overall, a well-timed and overtly accurate production put on by the team at Pittsburgh Musical Theater. They are and will continue to be the dark horse of the Pittsburgh theater scene. Bravo.
For our first cast review, click here.