‘Jekyll’s Hydes,’ a comedy about acceptance

‘Jekyll’s Hydes,’ a comedy about acceptance

**UPDATE: This event has been canceled due to coronavirus**

Friday Harbor Middle School is proud to announce its springtime play: “Jekyll’s Hydes.” A parody of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic tale “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” this production will not only make the audience laugh, but contains a deeper message as well, according to Jenni Merritt, director and Friday Harbor High School drama teacher.

“The overall message of the play is accepting who you are, not hiding parts of yourself, and let your passions be what drives you,” Merritt said, explaining that after the intensity of the recent high school musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” she felt a lighthearted play would be a refreshing change of pace.

The middle schoolers will perform “Jekyll’s Hydes” at 7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, March 26-28 and at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 29 at the San Juan Community Theatre. Thursday is “Pay What You Can” otherwise tickets are $19 for adults, $11 for students or $5 student rush at the door only. Tickets are available online at https://tickets.sjctheatre.org, or by calling the box office at 360-378-3210.

The original “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” revolves around scientist Henry Jekyll, who drinks a serum that inadvertently releases a repressed aspect of his personality, the evil Mr. Hyde. Merritt explained that she discovered the script for “Jekyll’s Hydes” when she was first hired as the drama teacher and fell in love with the parody.

“Jekyll’s Hydes,” written by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus, takes a lighter spin on the classic. This version centers around an ambitious teen, Henry Jekyll. He has worked himself to the brink of exhaustion because he desperately wants to win the highly competitive science scholarship. Jekyll has worked so hard on his project he becomes sleep deprived. During a panicked effort to stay awake to finish his project, Jekyll mixes a concoction of every caffeinated sugary beverage he finds in his locker. Jekyll’s accidental science experiment unleashes multiple personalities, including the cool kid Dino, Scottish woman Bonny, the sensitive and blind Oleander, even Fido, a dog. These new characters complicate the rest of Jekyll’s life — which includes bullies and love triangles. Adding to the fun and chaos, each personality is played by a different actor, including Fido, making the entire cast, according to Merritt, 18 students.

“I love that the storyline takes a classic tale and expands it,” Merritt noted. The plot has resonated with the students, Merritt continued, saying the actors have been soaking up the script. Some of them were even originally taking it too seriously, she added.

“At first, some of the kids were trying to make their characters real to the point that the play lost the comedy,” Merritt said. “They wanted to dig deep, which I loved, but I had to encourage them to loosen up, not take themselves so seriously.”

Several of these young thespians are new to the stage, Merritt said, and she has enjoyed watching them learn and grow.

“I can just see the love of theater in their faces. I can see them thinking ‘oh wow, this is what I’ve been missing!’” Merritt said.

This performance also has an above-average of students involved in the technical aspect of the play, like lights and sound, the subtle magic that occurs behind the scenes, Merritt explained. She added that while she usually has to scramble, beg and plead with students to take on backstage tasks. “Jekyll’s Hydes” according to Merritt, has such a large group of students volunteering for those positions, she utilized the opportunity to delve in and teach those students production crew skills.

Merritt also admitted she has done many parodies with the middle school crew. She said she loves the lighthearted storylines and that the very nature of parodies – making fun of everything – fits the age group.

“[‘Jekyll’s Hydes’] is really an innocent young and fun story, urging us not to take ourselves so seriously,” Merritt said. “I really hope the community comes and enjoys it.”

For more information, visit sjctheatre.org.