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Are the grateful dead? Nothing could be “furthur” from the truth

July 21, 2011

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my sick and twisted mind, everything makes sense. To me. Sadly, the rest of the world is often clueless when it comes to my thought processes, but the kind folks at TRR allow my eccentricities to flourish, and this week I whirled a bit.

It all started innocently enough, with my bimonthly trek to the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBPlayhouse.org) to check out their interpretation of the musical “Jekyll & Hyde” based on the “Strange Case Of” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Although the show enjoyed a modest Broadway run of 1,500 performances, it was never a financial success and there are several different versions floating around out there, waiting for the fog to lift.

Tossing other critics’ (not-so-humble) opinions aside, I found the show entertaining, and suspect that the over-hyped original version might have enjoyed a longer run if it hadn’t been missing a key ingredient—the incandescent presence of the electrifying Jessica Wagner.

Yes, the show was tautly staged by Sarah Norris, as well as keenly lit and dramatically designed by Tim Barbiaux and Michael O’Connor. Michael Padgett (in the tough-to-pull- off dual role) was good. Kevin Loreque (as John Utterson) has a beautiful voice and the show is supported by a few memorable tunes, written by Frank Wildhorn, with lyrics by “What Kind of Fool Am I?” showman Leslie Bricusse. But Jessica Wagner (in the role of Lucy) is more than enough reason to go see this show. Wagner’s voice is (IMHO) amazing in range, subtlety and versatility. Her acting reflects innate ability that cannot be learned, but apparently can be trained to attain heights reserved for a very few. I’ve seen this woman perform in the past and have always been impressed, but had no idea that she could literally breathe life into what once was dead. Worth the price of admission to observe Jessica Wagner weave her spell over an audience. Go.