Jekyll & Hyde: Is the Verdict Good or Evil?

Constantine Maroulis as Dr. Jekyll in his laboratory.

Constantine Maroulis as Dr. Jekyll in his laboratory.

Jekyll & Hyde, which has recently taken up residence in the Marriott Theatre for a 13 week limited engagement as their last stop on their national tour, has undergone several revisions through the years. Jeff Calhoun (Newsies) directed this production, with music by Frank Wildhorn (Bonnie & Clyde and Wonderland) and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse (Victor/Victoria).  The musical is adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and takes a lot of artistic liberties from the story, introducing story lines and several characters, including the two leading ladies.

This latest revival of Jekyll & Hyde fleshes out the story more directly and is less encumbered than some of the earlier versions. Any relationship had by Simon Stride and Emma Carew (Teal Wicks) is non-existent (as well it should be) and Dr. Jekyll makes several more allusions to his ailing father which reminds the audience of why Jekyll keeps subjecting himself to his experiment… kind of.

The set and costumes (Tobin Ost) play with the themes of duality of human nature and the use of a façade. Several mirrors, projections, and flipping walls are used to echo the talk of deception, falseness, and that what you see isn’t always what is real. The women’s chorus costumes were notably using the theme of duality with their maid/posh costumes consisting of a satin lace-up bodice and a large, period, bustled skirt marrying the styles of the posh and the working class.

Teal Wicks as Emma Carew with fiance Dr. Henry Jekyll.

Teal Wicks as Emma Carew with fiance Dr. Henry Jekyll.

The score by Frank Wildhorn was revamped, playing with tempos, time signatures, orchestration, and even some melodies, making it a more contemporary rock concert sound, to match the style of pop vocals.

It was clear that several audience members had come specifically to see the beautiful and vocally talented Deborah Cox as Lucy Harris and/or the swoon-worthy ex-American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis undertake the difficult role(s) of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Maroulis’ oddly placed mid-act one torch song “This is the Moment” and Cox’s eleventh-hour number “A New Life” amazed audiences and applause erupted before the song was even finished.

The sound of the show was more contemporary than has been done before, as Maroulis, Cox, and Wicks all wailed into the stratosphere with driving beats and electric guitars to guide them. There was a conscious effort to make the songs of Edward Hyde sound edgier and more rock and roll than that of Dr. Jekyll, but the effect of this was minimal because Maroulis riffed and belted his way through all of the songs, regardless of which character he was. However, his vocal range is definitely something to take note of, as he sings through the entire 150-minute musical effortlessly.

Lucy Harris (Cox) performing her nightly show at The Spider's Web for Dr. Jekyll and his friend, John Utterson.

Lucy Harris (Cox) performing her nightly show at The Spider’s Web for Dr. Jekyll and his friend, John Utterson.

The group numbers “Murder, Murder”, “Façade”, and “Bring on the Men” were all fine. The show is full of pop ballads and the audiences craves a rousing ensemble number, but is instead handed some slightly up-tempo group singing with less than exciting action.

Maroulis as Mr. Hyde and Cox as Lucy Harris.

Maroulis as Mr. Hyde and Cox as Lucy Harris.

The much-anticipated “Confrontation” in which Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde appear back and forth arguing with themselves throughout the entire song, was a bit of a let down because rather than Maroulis physically switching between both characters (as is traditionally done), he remained on the ground as Dr. Jekyll while a projected portrait of himself on the upstage wall turned into Mr. Hyde. So, technically he was having a confrontation with himself. It was visually impressive, but the acting is what should truly be impressive.

Maroulis as Dr. Henry Jekyll during "Confrontation."

Maroulis as Dr. Henry Jekyll during “Confrontation.”

If you’re looking for a night of belted contemporary musical theatre ballads entwined in the suspenseful and haunting question of what separates good and evil, Jekyll & Hyde is the show for you!

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