The Jekkies Are Coming: Guild Production Expected To Draw Unusual Crowd

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By: Laura M. Reckford
Published: 10/22/10

In the annals of Broadway theater, “Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical” may not have made much of a splash. Sure it played for several years and was nominated for some Tony awards. But reviews were mixed.

Then it hit the nationwide touring circuit, and everything changed. The show became an underground cult sensation, with an active fan base of people trekking for miles to see the different version of the gothic musical.

Those trekkers are known as Jekkies, and with the opening in two weeks of “Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical” at Highfield Theatre, all indications are that they are coming to Falmouth.

The online Urban Dictionary defines a Jekkie as “a loyal fan of the Frank Wildhorn musical Jekyll & Hyde, who has seen the show multiple times.”

Studying posts of online enthusiasts, it seems to be the music that draws people into the show and makes them want to see it again and again. On a web forum that attracts Jekkies, there is a “You know you’re a Jekkie when...,” list.

Number one of 50 indicators is “you can recite the entire libretto from the show word for word.”
Peter J. Cook of North Falmouth, who plays the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the theater guild show, agrees that could be the lure.

“It is great music,” he said.

But he said it also might be the various special effects, including the dual lead role. “It is compelling to see someone play both characters at the same time,” he said. At one point in the show, Mr. Cook even inhabits both roles in one song.

As one Jekkie put it on an online forum, “It’s a musical with a split personality.”

But it is hard to know what, besides the music, attracts these Jekkies, sometimes referred to as “true-blue Jekkies” or “diehard Jekkies,” to the show.

Is it the foggy Victorian London set?

Could it be the cast of prostitutes, politicians and physicians?

Mr. Cook speculated it may have something to do with the murder and mayhem, which can be handled differently in each production. “For each show that would be different, I would imagine,” he said.

Besides relishing playing both the hero and the villain of the play, Mr. Cook said he is enjoying being involved in a play with his entire family. His wife, Cynthia H. Cook, and son, Alex, are both in the chorus, and his daughter, Kaitlin, is on the stage crew.

The expected arrival of the Jekkies came up at a recent meeting of the board of the Falmouth Theatre Guild.

The guild’s board member in charge of the box office, Carol Marasa of Mashpee, reported that advance bookings to the play included people from out of town, as far away as New York City, who have never attended a theater guild show and have no connection to the cast of the show.

“The Jekkies are coming,” several people said at once.

When it came time to discuss stocking the concession stand, board member Irene M. Thibeault of East Falmouth, who is in charge of concessions, said she was geared up with the usual popcorn and other goodies.

But then board member Brian Switzer of Woods Hole wondered aloud if that would suit the bill.
“What do Jekkies eat?” Mr. Switzer asked. It was decided that red licorice should also be on the menu at the concession stand.

Falmouth Chamber of Commerce CEO Jay Zavala, upon hearing about the Jekkies, said the town will be ready. “I had never heard of a Jekkie before. Now that I have, my head is spinning with all manner of horrors and how we can enthrall them with all the town has to offer.”

Mr. Zavala said he may alert Main Street merchants to roll out the red (of course) carpet to welcome the Jekkies, “to our frightfully fantastic town of Falmouth.”

The play’s director, Eric W. Gomes of New Bedford, who has been involved with Falmouth Theatre Guild productions for 12 years, said the Broadway version of “Jekyll & Hyde” started with a few concept recordings and a pre-Broadway tour “and that is where the Jekkies started their following.”

Mr. Gomes said he himself first heard of the show in the 1990s when he was in high school and he bought a concept recording. It was years later after seeing his friend in a show and being urged to try directing it, that he decided to dive in. His musical director for this production is Geraldine Boles of Sandwich.

Mr. Gomes noted that the Falmouth Theatre Guild production is listed on the official Jekyll & Hyde website. Jekkies will likely key in on the fact that the Falmouth show is slightly different from the Broadway version, Mr. Gomes said. It is an authorized version from the Fullerton Civic Light Opera in California, which has added songs from the concept recordings.

“To me they made the action of the story a bit clearer,” he said.

Mr. Gomes said of this show, “I am really enjoying the show and it also helps that I have one of the most talented cast and production teams I have worked with.”

“Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical” with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn opens at Highfield Theatre in Falmouth Friday, November 5. It shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 PM through November 21. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for children and seniors. To order tickets, go to www.falmouththeatreguild.org or call 508-548-0400.

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