Second Street Players Presents “Doctor Jeckyll, No Place to Hide”

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2By Terry Rogers

“Doctor Jeckyll, No Place to Hide,” a comedy written by Pat Cook, opened at the Second Street Players on Friday, July 11. After the opening weekend of performances, shows are still planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 18, 19, and 20. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8pm and Sunday shows are at 3pm. Robin Twilley will make her adult directorial debut for the show.

“This is basically a warped version of the serious play, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” said Mrs. Twilley during rehearsals in preparation for the play’s opening. “It is very funny, very fast and it has been a lot of fun to put together. I am fortunate to have a talented cast who learned their lines quickly, something that directors want more than anything.” Mrs. Twilley directed a children’s play for the Second Street Players, “Hansel and Gretel,” and has been an assistant director, producer and stage manager for productions at the theater.

The play stars Brandon Twilley, Mrs. Twilley’s son, who plays Henry Jekyll, a meek scientist, who must deal with his sarcastic man-servant, Chives, played by Jerry Birl, as well as an overbearing fiancé, Prunella, played by Aubrey Edwards. In the play, Dr. Jekyll creates a potion that makes weak men brave, although it originally began as a method to cure seasickness. After taking the potion, Dr. Jekyll becomes more aggressive, and surprisingly very hairy. He finds himself dodging the police, explaining how a horse ended up in his surgery and dealing not only with his assistant and fiancée, but also an overbearing mother and man-hungry sister. Soon, Dr. Jekyll finds himself turning into Sir Hyde, played by David W. Hall, even without the potion.

“It has been very interesting playing the straight man to a lot of big, crazy characters,” said Brandon Twilley. “It is funny because Chives, my butler, is on stage more than I am. The most challenging part is getting comfortable playing the straight man and finding funny moments without going too big.” Mr. Twilley also said it was difficult at times during practice to keep a straight face as the lines were very funny. He said he spent a lot of time studying the design on the wall or looking down at his shoe to remain in character.

Aubrey Edwards, who plays the female lead in the play, said that it was difficult at first for her to come up with her character as the only description given to her in the play was that she was “overbearing.” She said her biggest challenge was determining where she wanted the character to go.

“We get character descriptions,” said Ms. Edwards. “Mine simply said ‘overbearing’ with no further explanation. I had to figure out what overbearing was, like was I supposed to be bossy, loud, or what.” As for keeping a straight face during practice, Ms. Edwards said “we haven’t.” She did say that repetition helped as the more times they read the lines, the less funny it became.

Ms. Edwards, who played the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland,” said that there were times when some of the actors would ad-lib and that would cause the rest of the cast to fight laughter.

“You want to say, ‘Oh my God, why did you do that?’” Ms. Edwards said.

Jerry Birl, who plays Chives, said that he has also enjoyed working with the talented cast. As for keeping a straight face, Mr. Birl and Steve Twilley, the assistant director, likened the practices to the old “Carol Burnett Show” where Tim Conway and Harvey Chorman often fight laughter during their skits.

“I think that has to be the biggest challenge in this role, keeping a straight face,” said Mr. Birl. “The other challenge is that I get slapped about 17 times.” Mr. Birl has played leads before, including Daddy Warbucks in “Annie.”

Tickets are available online at the www.secondstreetplayers.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006 and are $17 per person. There is a $1 discount for seniors and students for the Sunday matinees. All shows are held at the Second Street Players Riverfront Theater located at 2 South Walnut Street in Milford.