Boots on the Ground Presents Jekyll and Hyde, With a Twist - 27 East

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Boots on the Ground Presents Jekyll and Hyde, With a Twist

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Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Boots on the Ground Theater's production of “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” runs October 14 to 30 at SCC. TOM KOCHIE

Leah Chiappino on Oct 11, 2022

Need some Halloween fun and a good laugh? Beginning Friday, October 14, and on weekends throughout the rest of the month, Boots on the Ground Theater in association with Southampton Cultural Center will present “Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll & Hyde Play” by Lauren Wilson.

The play is a take on the classic 19th century novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson, with a mix of humor and questions of good versus evil thrown in.

“It’s a very physical, funny, funny show,” said Mark Heidemann, who is directing the production. “It’s got a little taste to it too. It hits on all kinds of subjects like patriarchy and colonialism and modern life in general. So it’s very funny.”

Last spring, Heidemann worked with Bonnie Grice — the producer of the show and founder of Boots on the Ground — on “The Agitators,” a play exploring the true story of the lifelong friendship between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Heidemann and Grice enjoyed working together so much on that project that they immediately pondered what they should do next.

Wanting a break from the heaviness of “The Agitator,” Heidemann’s directorial debut, he said they decided on a Halloween show and were drawn to the historical aspect of “Chemical Imbalance,” as well as the farce Wilson’s take offers on the classic Jekyll and Hyde story.

“I love the fact that this was bringing Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic to life, although he’s probably rolling in his grave,” Grice joked.

Heidemann explained that in the show, Dr. Jekyll wants to figure out how to tackle the problem of our dual nature, our good, and our bad selves. He finds a way to do it but, one that is “quite different,” Heidemann added.

“It explores the whole idea of different sides, and could this actually be a chemical imbalance in people? And hence, Lauren taking that and using it as the title and then exploring that even more, but in a hysterical way,” Grice said.

As much fun as the show is, however, Heidemann said that from a director’s standpoint, it has had its challenges.

“People always joke that comedy is harder than drama, and that farce is even harder,” he said. “It’s almost balletic in the way the physical humor has to work. So there is a timing to everything. Your comedy has to have exquisite timing.”

An added challenge to the timing of this comedy is that it involves a lot of physicality rather than just running lines. There are doors slamming and people running, fleeing and hitting, Heidemann said, all of which needs to be right on cue.

The cast of the show includes Colin Palmer as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde; Bonnie Grice as Euphronia Jekyll; Zoe Richardson as Ambrosia Jekyll; Esmeralda Cabrera as Rosamunda Dewthistle; Christian Lepore as Lady Throckmortonshire; Bela Gogiashvili as Calliope/Penelope; Tom Gregory as Xavier Utterson/Lieutenant; Gerri Wilson as Ivy; Nicholas Aulett as Plodgett, and Frederick Nydegger as a constable.

The actors, Heidemann said, were cast well in advance of the show and are from both the North and South forks, a rare feat on the East End.

“We just have some really, really talented actors, and they have managed to create really, really memorable characters with this show,” Heidemann said. “I think people are going to be really, really pleasantly surprised just how funny and great the performers are.”

Grice said she founded Boots on the Ground Theater in 2016 as a way to bring history to life by producing shows and historical reenactments on the East End, which is why she and Heidemann were drawn to the historic nature of this show. Two years ago, Southampton Cultural Center made Boots on the Ground a company-in-residence, allowing the organization to produce a show each fall.

This is Heidemann’s second time directing, but Grice said all of the actors rave about his abilities in the role.

“Part of the mission of Boots on the Ground is to give people opportunities that they haven’t had before,” she said.

The fact that this could be a family’s first time out to a live show since the pandemic began is another reason a comedy was chosen, and also why it will be kept to an hour and a half with intermission.

“Coming out for a heavy-duty show might be asking a little bit much for people, and we just thought, ‘You know what? People need to get out and be together and laugh together again,’” Heidemann said. “With this show, it has that familiarity, where you go in and kind of sit back and just let the action unfold and you don’t necessarily sweat the plot because everyone knows the basic story.”

“Chemical Imbalance” by Lauren Wilson is directed by Mark Heidemann and produced by Bonnie Grice and Boots on the Ground Theater and will be offered weekends from October 14 to 30 at Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane, Southampton. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $35 ($25 for students under 21) at scc-arts.org and at the door prior to each performance.

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