For Washington Isaac Holmes, crossing the line between caring and scaring is a question of letting his hair down.
Mr. Holmes, who plays the dual roles of the well-mannered Dr. Jekyll and the unhinged Mr. Hyde in the Augusta Players production of Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical , said that while other productions rely on special effects to turn man into monster, the musical depends on performance and song. The only physical transformation involves pulling his hair out of a ponytail.
"They all have the wonderful makeup, the lights, the camera, the action," he said. "There's none of that here."
What Jekyll and Hyde does have is music. Broad, dramatic and theatrical, the show's songs are unabashedly emotional. Mr. Holmes said it was the challenge of the music that gave him pause in accepting the role.
"I didn't care about the acting or how much I had to sing," he said. "What I cared about was how high I would have to sing. That, for me, was the main thing."
Mr. Washington said the truth in Jekyll and Hyde is dependent on faithful delivery of the music.
"And that's what I want," he said. "I want to be true. I want to be true to the music, and I want it to flesh out these two characters. I want that audience to feel that I am, in fact, torn between these two characters."
The metaphor of the duality of man is reinforced by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde's relationships with women. Amanda Taggart and Ashley Pirsig play Lucy and Emma, respectively, in the production. Each represents one part of Jekyll/Hyde's ideal woman, while remaining complex characters in their own right.
"During the last week we really began discussing the deeper message of this show," Ms. Taggart said. "And we really do represent the two sides of him. But there are also two sides in each of these characters. I mean, although this (Lucy) is a character that prostitutes herself, there is still real good in her."
Ms. Pirsig said the essential moments of drama and discovery often happen within the structure of a song.
"That's the great thing about this show," she said. "Those moments really are served up on a platter. You really have no choice but to deliver these messages, these emotions.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical, presented by the Augusta Players
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: The Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.
COST: $15-$40; (706) 826-4707 or go to www.augustaplayers.org