Split personality



My older daughter has wanted to see Jekyll and Hyde, the musical, on Broadway from the time that the announcement was made that the show as coming back to Broadway. She has not yet read the book but has seen an animated version and was fascinated by the story. I had read the book by Robert Louis Stevenson decades ago and my wife and I had seen the musical version on Broadway. I thought the music and the show were very good but my wife, who prefers that musicals be based on happy themes and have happy endings, was less than thrilled. When the announcement came out that the musical was coming back, she made clear—even before I had the opportunity to ask –that she was not willing to sit through it a second time. To accommodate my older daughter and also because I had enjoyed the show, I bought us tickets to see the revival.

During the same weekend as we went to see Jekyll and Hyde, we also went to see The Host, which is based on Stephanie Meyer’s novel. Having read the Twilight series (yes, it is true that I just don’t read economics), I like the story telling of Stephanie Meyer and was looking to see this story of mostly nice aliens (given they are aliens, I felt that saying good hearted was not appropriate) who had taken over the human race and invaded our bodies. The specific story line focused on Melanie, a human, whose body is taken over by Wanderer with the mission of helping to locate the non assimilated humans that Melanie had been in contact with. Melanie, who is very strong willed, resists and the story revolves around the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer, who are both housed in Melanie’s body. Without giving away too many of the details, Wanderer ends up helping Melanie and the remaining humans survive and the story ends with some humans and some aliens including both Melanie as well as Wanderer renamed Wanda (in a human body) enjoying each other’s company. This is as close to a happy ending as you could have under the circumstances.

Jekyll and Hyde doesn’t have the same happy ending and even the good music can’t lighten the murderous behavior of Mr. Edward Hyde, the violent alter ego of Dr. Henry Jekyll. Both are in the same body, signifying the good and evil that exists in all of us. Here, over time, Mr. Hyde becomes the dominant personality with murderous results. And once again, without giving away too many details, Mr. Hyde looks to get even with those who have wronged Dr. Jekyll/him. The story is clearly riveting and has stood the test of time.

There is a debate in education as to whether to emphasize fiction or non-fiction especially as kids are still refining their reading and comprehension skills. Both clearly have merit and both are essential for an educated person. The common core standards seem to emphasize non-fiction and there is clearly the impression that literature will take more of a back seat to information. I hope this isn’t true and that fiction and non-fiction will both share the front seat. I am not an expert in this area but I do know that over the years I have enjoyed reading fiction more than non-fiction and have been glued to more fiction works than non-fiction works. And fiction or non-fiction, I always appreciate the arts be it film or a Broadway musical and the way the arts help important stories live.