Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
“This day, or never, I’ll sit forever with the gods! When I look back, I will always recall…the greatest moment of them all!” This is the triumphant final chorus of “This is the Moment” from Repertory Phil. “Jekyll & Hyde” which runs until April 22 at Onstage, Greenbelt1. The song calls for power in the voice that Jett Pangan has in spades. The vocal prowess was always there for Jett who is one of the most recognizable faces in Pinoy rock. As the front man of The Dawn, his powerful vocals have become the signature to songs like “Salamat”, “Enveloped Ideas” and “Talaga Naman.”
Recently Pangan has started OPM2Go with Ogie Alcasid to be able to sell Pinoy music online in a more convenient way. In an article in PDI by Pocholo Concepcion: “Buying the songs can be done through mobile phones (using SMART’S Pasabayad scheme). For non Smart subscribers opm2go prepaid cards are available at National Bookstore, 7 Eleven, Astro Vision and Odyssey.” But because people know him as this ultimate Filipino rock star, his talent in acting has taken a backseat from the public consciousness.
Even though Pangan has innumerable stage roles over a 12-year period since he was cast in his first musical. He was given an Aliw award for his role as Jimmy Early in “Dreamgirls”. Recently he was also nominated for his lead role opposite Menchu Lauchengco Yulo in the play “Next to Normal.” Pangan is also cast in Antlantis Production’s in “Rock of Ages” on July with Lea Salonga and Mig Ayesa. And in Spetember he will be in the musical “Nine.” Menchu is cast opposite Lea Salonga in “God of Carnage.”
The lavish musical marks the first time Jett will be part of a Repertory Phil. production. Menchu now serves as his director. Alternating for the title role is veteran stage actor Michael Williams who has had over 100 roles to his credit. Michael was part of the original “Miss Saigon” cast along with Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, Cocoy Laurel and Junix Inocian. Junix is reunited with Williams for this musical in the role of Gabriel Utterson. Usually Williams dons the hat of director.
Michael Williams described Jett during the press con, “He’s a tough act to follow and a great performer. I wish I had his gravity, which makes his Hyde darker. I do comedies and musicals. It’s really an effort to make myself darker. The challenge is my voice is light. He has that darkness that lends itself to the voice.”
Jett on the other hand believes that Williams has a unique take on the character, “Michael has a lot of nuances only a person with vast experience in theater has. For him to transform is a revelation. It’s something we won’t expect.”
For Jett, it’s a subtle transformation at first, but because of his passionate rock star persona he easily inhabits the Hyde character. Menchu did not want the caricature monster but more of the believable sinister rendition. She said, “I didn’t want to create a monster based on the novel. If I went that route it would be funny. It’s just a potion that takes any inhibitions. It would be like a man on drugs. I didn’t want the Broadway hair with a ponytail.”
There’s a facial expression that changes in addition to the louder, more forceful delivery for Hyde. The most difficult and also the most impressive scene is when both personas try to take control. Jett has to deliver one line after the other each character responding in the “Confrontation”. Both the performance and the direction deserve a lot of credit. Unlike in other versions where the character relies on gimmicks to delineate the two personas, here it’s reliant solely on the delivery. The previous Broadway version (one with David Hasselhoff) had the lead actor with long hair on one side and short hair on the other. The actor turning from one side to the other as each character responds.
Here it was reliant on voice, facial expression and lighting. One side was bathed in deep magenta, the other a cool blue. Other than that, Jett was the one bringing both characters to life conflicting inside him. “JEKYLL: All that you are is the end of a nightmare! All that you are is a dying scream! After tonight, I shall end this demon dream! HYDE: This is not a dream, my friend -And it will never end… now and forever, They’ll never be able to separate Jekyll from Hyde!”