Musical: Jekyll and Hyde

This novella is based on the musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). My novella is a variation for the song “Bring on the Men” (originally sung by a prostitute, named Lucy).

Gregory stood in the backstage. He was waiting – along with his fellow dancers – for the call for them to enter the stage. It might be the big moment of his life, he waited for this opportunity for so long. If he got this casting right, the new role could land him straight on Broadway. He threw an anxious glance at the others. The whole ensemble of the community theater came along with him.

They were preparing for this casting for an eternity now. The long hours after the daily rehearsals when everyone stayed just learn and hone to perfection every move of the choreography. Gregory wanted that role so badly. Even if it meant that he had to leave his fellow dancers afterward and move to the big city. If he succeeded and left his adopted family, he would miss everyone dearly. But he was certain that they would be coming to all his premiers, they do everything to support him from the distance.

In that moment, the call came. “Applicant 1307, Gregory LaClerk, to stage” boomed from the speakers. And Gregory’s heart jumped to his throat and started to beat a mad staccato rhyme. His best friend, Madison grabbed his shoulders, then hugged him, whispering in his ears that everything would be just as they planned. The choreography was Madison’s masterwork, she’d put in blood, sweat and tears along with unrelenting effort to make them master every move the exact same way she dreamt them.

After Gregory freed himself from the arms around his neck, Teddy, his boyfriend stepped before him, pecking his lips with a good luck kiss.

“You go now” he whispered between kisses “you show ‘em, and we’ll be waiting right here.”

Gregory nodded, and stepped from behind the curtains. His legs were a bit wobbly, but he managed to get them under control. He put his best, most charming smile on his face and led the ensemble on the stage. The dancers stayed back in the rear while Gregory went to stand before the jury.

The auditorium was dark – due to the flooding light in his eyes it was hard to see them -, but Gregory knew well enough who they were. The jury consisted of a master choreographer – hosting talent shows in the past -, a kick-ass stage director, a famous dancer and a Broadway actor. Nothing to get stage fright over.

“Welcome on stage, Mr LaClerk” said the director and Gregory couldn’t find his voice so he just nodded feigning confidence. “We understand that you brought Bring on the men from Jekyll and Hyde.”

“Yes, sir” he answered politely, “And I will be impersonating Lucy. Lucas in this case, if you don’t mind me calling myself so.”

A heartbeat of silence, and Gregory felt the rush of adrenaline, now or never. Just let them make their first move, he told himself. He looked sideways and his gaze met with Teddy’s, he was concealed from anyone’s view looking from the auditorium. Teddy threw a thumbs up at him and flashed a bright smile so wide it threatened to split his face. Gregory turned back to the jury when the actor started to speak – a few years back he was the starring as Jekyll from the same musical.

It was an honor standing face to face with these people, it really was. He barely dared hope to be among them one day. He wanted this casting to go well so badly, he wanted his biggest dream to come true. The orphan with no family to support him, adopted by an old community theater director… The man gave Gregory a life and a bright future. For his sake he had to succeed today.

“Lucas” repeated the actor after him. “But the original character is a female, a prostitute.”

“I’m well aware she’s female” explained Gregory smiling “but I think we can all agree on the fact that Jekyll and Hyde is a really decadent piece of art. And the prostitute regardless of his or her gender, would be someone Jekyll would want to help, would because of the gentle façade shown to him. He would want to save him and would be completely oblivious of the fact Lucas loves his life that way. And me too, I like my life as it is now. Therefore I think, I am a perfect fit for Lucas’s role.”

“But you do know that Lucy has a special bond with both Jekyll and Hyde, right?” asked the actor again, and there was a strange intonation in his voice Gregory couldn’t quite decipher.

“Yes, I know very well” he said still smiling.

“And where does it leave you? How could Lucas fit in that special relationship?” That was news. The man was a homophobe fearing that he would be forced to play along with someone like Gregory. Wasn’t it ironic? Fearing changes in a progressive musical like Jekyll and Hyde?

“In a very eye-opening way, it would be a relationship from a new point of view.” Gregory didn’t let his smile fade away. “But I can tell you, the audience will love it.”

“You mean you want them to love you” bit back the actor.

“Isn’t it the same thing?” Asked he seductively, at that time he became Lucas entirely.

“I already like it” said the director laughing. “Bring it on, son.”

Music started to play. And Lucas with fluid elegant movement walked in the middle of the stage. The other prostitutes and clients stayed in the shadows. It was Lucas’s time for show himself, so he started to sway and sing on his honey-like voice mesmerizing everyone in the audience.

I don’t know when

I didn’t have much time for men

But this is now and that was then, I’m yearning

A boy alone, all on his own

Must try to have a heart of stone

So I try not to make it known me wanting

I try to show I have no need

I really do, I don’t succeed

Lucas deliberately changed the original lyrics at some places he deemed necessary, therefore in the first verse’s learning became yearning, the end of the second verse’s “my yearning” transformed into “me wanting”. And the same way he changed the line “a girl alone” to “a boy alone”, because it wouldn’t make much sense unchanged, would it?

The he proceeded to the refrain. He sung it on his own, while the other dancers started to gather around him.

So lets bring on the men

And let the fun begin

A little touch of skin

Why wait another minute

Step this way it’s time for us to play

They say we may not pass this way again

So let’s waste no more time

Bring on the men

The next thing Lucas changed in the lyrics was the word “sin”, because why would it be a sin to love men, and to lust for men, as he was made from his birth. He refused to believe that he was a sinner because of his desires. His movements, his gestures perfectly drove the message home, that everyone trying, wanting to judge or condemn him for what he was, how he lived his life, can go to hell. It was clear as day that Lucas was happy as he was, he liked his conquests as numerous as possible.

I always knew, I always said

A silk and lace in black and red

Will drive a man right off his head, it’s easy

So many men, so little time

I want them all, is that a crime, no

I don’t know why they say that I’m too easy

They make me laugh, they make me cry

They make me sick, so God knows why

Lucas danced from one man to the other, presenting himself to them, making them want to grab him, but everything he let them do to him, happened on his own terms. And every client worshiped Lucas, they wanted to be in his good graces, they were vying for his attention, but Lucas turned down the ones he deemed to be unpleasant. He shared his attention among the lucky ones, bestowed his graces on them. And when he turned down someone bothersome, a brawl almost broke out, but he managed to take the heat of the events.

We say bring on the men

And let the fun begin

A little touch of skin

Why wait another minute

Step this way it’s time for us to play

They say we may not pass this way again

So let’s waste no more time

Bring on the men

They break your heart

They steal your soul

Take you apart

And yet they somehow make you whole

So what’s their game

I suppose a rose by any other name

The perfume and the pricks the same

The second time the clients, prostitutes (females and males) and Lucas sung the refrain together, and danced in a tangled heap of bodies and limbs. It was completely unambiguous what was happening on the stage, the dance showed every bit of intimacy possible only using movements and touches embedded in the choreography.

Then the group broke away and Lucas was left alone, everyone retreating back to the shadows of the stage. He walked downstage, making eye contact with the audience as much as he could bathing in the bright stage lights. The final verses of the song was directed at the jury trying to seduce every one of them.

I like to have a man for breakfast each day

I’m very social and I like it that way

By late mid-morning I need something to munch

So I ask over 2 men for lunch

And men are mad about my afternoon tea’s

They’re quite informal I just do it to please

Those triple sandwiches are my favorite ones

I’m also very, partial to buns

My healthy appetite gets strongest at night

My at home dinners are my men friends delight

When I invite the fellas over to dine

They all come early, in bed by nine!

And from the gasps he thought he heard from the jury, he knew he’d won. When they sung the last refrain together, some of the audience joined in, and this all but fully confirmed his victory.

After the music faded, Lucas transformed back into Gregory, after he bowed to the audience, he signed for his fellow dancers to join him, then all of them bowed again together. They were rewarded with resounding applause. Then the clapping of hands had ended, and the dancers retreated again, leaving Gregory alone waiting for the jury’s decision.

His nerves had returned, he panted and willed his breathing to slow, while anxiously stole a look at Teddy for support. That enchanted expression on his face infused him with courage, he knew with Teddy at his side he would endure anything, even rejection. But he wasn’t rejected. His brain short circuited hearing all the praises flying at him, the only thing he could hear from the storm of swirling words was: “It isn’t official yet, and I couldn’t say this, but welcome on board.”

Notes

  • Lyrics based on Bring on the Men (Jekyll & Hyde)
  • Source of cover image: unsplash,com (Denise Jans)

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