Reviewed by Richard Malone
The new production of the musical Jekyll & Hyde is in the middle of a short-run in Chicago prior to setting up shop for an extended Broadway run next month. Based on the 19th century Robert Louis Stevenson novella, “Jekyll & Hyde” tells the story of Dr. Jekyll (Constantine Maroulis), who in seeking a cure for his father’s severe mental illness, performs self-experimentation that involves a lot of fluorescing, liquid-filled beakers connected to tubes and arm straps. This dubious chemistry project results in splitting the good doctor’s personality in two--- the mild Dr. Jekyll and the villainous Mr. Hyde. Like Jekyll’s personality, this show has two distinct contrasting elements, a hummable pop score mostly well sung by a talented cast and a ridiculous plot and book that does not allow you to connect with or care about the characters. Not much of how the story is executed makes sense, and it requires you to just go with it to get to the end.
Deborah Cox as Lucy, the prostitute who falls for the sensitive Dr. Jekyll but is abused by the sadistic Mr. Hyde, is a highlight in this show. Her vocals are supremely suited for the popular ballads “Someone Like You” and “A New Life”, and this is an opportunity to present her voice in a different light to many of her fans who know only her mostly as a dance remix diva. Teal Wicks, who plays Jekyll’s yearning fiancée, Emma, also brings a beautiful voice to her underdeveloped role. Maroulis, looking a little alternative as Dr. Jekyll with his trademark long locks, hits the notes but belts his songs with pop-rock excess. This is like an adult Disney musical with a Disneyfied score and a tacked on book. It could be more satisfying if greater liberties were taken with the story, but this musical is not being workshopped, so I wouldn’t expect much in the way of change before sitting down on Broadway.
At Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago through March 24, 2013
Conceived for the stage by Steve Cudin and Frank Wildhorn
Book and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun
Photo Credit: Chris Bennion