Jekyll & Hyde – Murderous!

Jekyll & Hyde - Broadway
Jekyll & Hyde – Broadway
Credits:
Courtesy of the Hartman Group – Chris Bennion/AP Photo
by: Sandi Durell

When personalities collide, it can be disastrous. But when the collision is between the good and evil sides of the same person, it’s murder! In this case, it’s screamingly over the top, at times feeling as though I was at a rock concert wishing I had brought my earplugs. This pop-rock operetta is based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.”

The original version in 1997 ran 3 years . . . which amazed many. This is probably the most likeable of Frank Wildhorn’s numerous Broadway rejects. The original starred his then wife, Linda Eder, along with Tony nominated Robert Cuccioli and lovely Christiane Noll. Wildhorn wrote the music to Leslie Bricusse’ book and lyrics.

This revival brings American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis (Tony nominee Rock of Ages) to the title role who, undoubtedly, has a big soaring tenor rock voice that can pierce glass with its unyielding power. He is meek and mild as Dr. Jekyll, the scientist, experimenting on himself as to the duality of personalities – the decent, respectable side he maintains in society versus Mr. Hyde, the sinister, immoral and murderous personality buried beneath. He is very likeable as the bespectacled Dr. Jekyll, but as the evil Mr. Hyde he unleashes his wild, untamed hair tossing decadence, which is powerful and riveting.

Dr. Jekyll is betrothed to the lovely Emma (warm, soaring soprano Teal Wicks). As Jekyll loses control of his chemical intake, he turns more and more into Mr. Hyde, finding a love interest in the naughty Victorian lingerie costume clad hooker Lucy (Deborah Cox) who inhabits the Spider Club where everything and anyone is available for a price. Ms. Cox is an award winning R & B singer who has a sexy look, sound and ability to bring just the right rhythm to the brothel in “Bring On the Men” (with playful bondage choreography) and a poignant beauty to “Someone Like You.” Duet “In His Eyes” is a highlight for these two ladies.

As Mr. Hyde knocks off all the people on the Board of the hospital to whom he appealed to continue his research, receiving unanimous “nays,” (1 abstain from Emma’s father), the raw imagery of each murder has its own duality of humor and horror.

Maroulis gives his all or perhaps his over-the-top, screeching performance, which brings even more of a caricature-like overlay to the role. His version of “This Is the Moment” kept bringing up comparisons to Cuccioli – my vote going to the latter.

Outstanding is Tobin Ost’s scenic design offering very contemporary flat screen picture-frame mirrors and asymmetrical futuristic moving walls, a high tech laboratory and more, and his fabulous Gothic costumes, all enhanced by Jeff Croiter’s lighting design and Daniel Brodie’s projections. The sound was turned up to rock concert level, a little too high pitched for my ears, by Ken Travis.

Jeff Calhoun directed and choreographed this ying-yang variety, as you leave the theater feeling unsure of your own duality of love-hate.

Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway at 45th Street, closes June 30th.

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