Brian Pucheu jumped at the chance to play the dual title roles in the new production of “Jekyll & Hyde” at Visalia’s College of the Sequoias, which opens tonight. And why not? It’s one of those plum theater roles in which you get to be really good and really bad, sometimes with just a few seconds to shift from one character to another.
We caught up with Pucheu, who’s well known for his many Fresno-area theater roles, to talk about the Visalia production.
Question: Have you ever played this role before? What attracted you to it?
No, I’ve not. The challenging music is what first drew me to it.
COS productions are known for impressive stagecraft. What are a couple of things that you think will stand out for audiences?
The sheer scale of the set and its clever use of its space.
Where do you think you fall on the Jekyll-and-Hyde scale: Are you mostly Jekyll and a little bit of Hyde? Or vice versa?
I believe that I walk the line between the two quite well. I am a Gemini, after all.
How does this role rank up in terms of how challenging it is compared to other major roles you’ve done?
The biggest challenge of this role is that it is in fact playing two main characters at the same time. We had to create two seperate voices, mannerisms, personalities, even the way they stand is distinct from each other.
Totally unrelated: We never got to check in with you after you starred opposite Louise Mandrell in “Calamity Jane” last summer. What was that experience like for you?
Working with Louise was an absolute delight. She is every bit the sweet, generous, caring Southern gal that she appears to be on stage. And because of her demeanor any intimidation that could have been was gone the moment she said, “Howdy.”
What’s your favorite moment in “Jekyll & Hyde”?
It would have to be listening to our two female leads sing “In His Eyes.” It’s a moment I just get to sit back and listen to these two beautiful women bring down the house.
Talk a little about the rest of the cast.
I greatly admire the hard work they have been putting in. The COS students always impress me. Both times being in shows with them as well as the several productions I’ve seen. You can just see the dedication they bring to the table.
Anything else you’d like to say about the production?
In a COS production, you cannot ever forget the insane amount of work the production crew puts in behind the scenes. God knows how many hours they put in after we leave rehearsal each night. But that’s part of what makes every show I’ve seen and been a part of something special. The absolute quality and caliber of shows are nothing short of awesome.