IAN Curran’s transformation from the mild mannered Dr Henry Jekyll to his snarling, murderous alter ego, armed with the most demented of laughs, is a genuinely scary sight.
Had he ventured into the audience I’m convinced some of the audience would’ve have dropped the drinks they clutched in plastic glasses.
But this is a love story as well as a horror story too and rest assured, this huge talent is as adept at being tender as he is terrifying. He also has a voice to die for - no pun intended - and an effortless chemistry between him and his unsuspecting bride to be Emma Carew, played by Francesca Bowman.
The big ballads are the best numbers in this show, ideal vehicles for Ian, Francesca and Elizabeth Lovelady, who is simply outstanding as Lucy, the object of the creepy Edward Hyde’s affections. All three wouldn’t sound out of place on a professional stage.
Director Martyn Preston must have thought all his birthdays had come at once when these three turned up for auditions and he certainly more than repays the favour, giving us a show that is as captivating as it is enchanting.
For a musical it’s unusual for me to care about the characters and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one aching for a happy ending, not being overly familiar with this creepy and disturbing tale. Will Henry Jekyll manage to shake off Edward Hyde, the dark character he unleashes after some dangerous medical experiments?
The Waterside Arts Centre may not be the biggest performance space but it worked in helping to up the emotional ante in a musical that I’d never seen before but would love to see again.
I tend to give five star ratings sparingly as I feel it renders the rating meaningless but to give a production of this quality anything less would be insulting.
Book tickets - if you dare.
Until May 4. The box office is on 0161 912 5616. Star rating - *****