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By: Stephanie Wilbur Ash | Posted: 07/03/2014
Minnesota Centennial Showboat’s summer show, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, opened on a rainy June 19 on a Mississippi River that was flooding its banks. That night was the only show the run got in before going dark due to flooding. (The show resumes July 4. Tickets are available.) This reviewer, four teenagers, and her husband were aboard that fateful trip.
On the ride there:
Dad: We’re going to see a show on a boat. It’s called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Teens (collective): Sigh. Arrrghhh. Boo. I told you like a million times I don’t like shows!
Random teen: What? Wait. Is this show on a boat?
Dad: That’s what I just said.
Random teen: Are we going to die, like in Titanic?!
Random teen: “I’M KING OF THE WORLD!”
Random teen: It is the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic. So we could, like, totally die.
Random teen: What? Wait! Is this show Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Dad: That’s what I just said.
Teen: We did that play in language arts class! I was Mr. Hyde! (Laughs in an evil troll-like voice)
Dad: (upon glimpsing the swollen Mississippi River waters) We’re not going to die, right?
We get on the boat. The river is extremely high.
Random teen: This isn’t a showboat it’s a paddleboat… Oh wait! I get it! It’s a SHOWboat! Because there’s a show on the boat!
Random teen: Are we going to die?
Random teen: Um, there were, like, three flash flood warnings on my iPhone today.
Dad: We’re pretty sure we’re not going to die.
Random teen: Say “showboat” 20 times really fast. Now say “ex” 20 times really fast. HAHAHA!
We sit in our seats.
Random teen: I’m getting seasick!
(Editor's note: The boat does not move. It is moored to the banks.)
Random teen: There are no kids here. Only old people are here! Where are the kids? I’m not going to like this.
Dad: One day you’ll be an old person like me and you’ll like everything.
One of the actors comes out to announce that the show will close after this performance due to flooding and resume when the river returns to normal.
Teens (collective): We’re going to die!!!
The show begins. It’s a charming melodrama, lightly performed by University of Minnesota students, with audience-participation encouraged, a challenge most of the teens accept with gusto. This reviewer found the musical interludes particularly comedic and fun. She also enjoyed the classic painted backdrops, vaudevillian stage effects, and piano accompaniment.
Random teen: (whispering) This is old-timey.
Random teen: (whispering) There’s been “foul play”? There’s baseball in this show?
The contrast between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is, according to this reviewer and mother of teens, deeply metaphorical to puberty. When Dr. Jekyll swears that “My future will be given over to my better self!” this mother cheers the loudest, as if cheering could control the fate and behavior of pubescent children.
The house lights go up for intermission.
Random teen: Is it over?
Random teen: No. It’s just halftime.
Random teen: I don’t like those musical things in the middle.
Random teen: I really hate them!
Dad: I love them!
Mom: Those are my favorite parts!
Random teens (collective): Ohmigod you are so old!
Random teen: I can’t believe we’re still alive.
Entire trees are floating down the river, bumping into the boat. Here is a list of other items the teens observed floating in the river:
• flip flop (two, not a pair)
• pirate hat
• plastic Minute Maid orange juice container, empty
• plastic Diet Coke container, empty
• plastic (general)
Random teen: There are so many old people here. And they are all drinking beer!
The show resumes. Most of the teenagers crack under their too-cool-for-school façade and actually enjoy the show. In particular, they enjoy the fake mirror effect, the fog effect, the dramatic on-stage costume change, and a musical number about sausage puppets with tiny little feet who are in love. Two of the teenagers even admit they enjoyed the show as a whole and are glad they saw it. The parents are ecstatic about this.
The show ends and there is a curtain call.
Random teen: Where’s Hyde?
Mom: The actor who played Dr. Jekyll also played Mr. Hyde. Get it?
Random teen: Wait. What?! But they were in the same scenes!
The actors are in the lobby, shaking hands of audience members and answering questions.
Teen (to actor who played Jekyll/Hyde): Why didn’t Hyde take a bow?
Actor (Christian Boomgaarden): Ummm, because he is dead?
Teen: That sucks.
Actor: I’ll talk to my director about it.
The ride home takes us over the swollen river again.
Random teen: I seriously can’t believe we’re not dead.
Dad: Me too.
Random teen: The musical numbers were longer than the rest of the show!
Tenth-grade teen: If I were in seventh grade, I would have hated to be there.
Seventh-grade teen: Exactly.
Stephanie Wilbur Ash is a senior editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. See bio.
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