Review: 'Jekyll & Hyde' a weak musical lucky to have talented cast, crew
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 8:12 AM
Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox may share top billing for the new production of "Jekyll & Hyde" that opened Tuesday at the Tulsa PAC, but the real star is Tobin Ost.
Ost is the show's scenic and costume designer, and he's created a marvel of an environment for this classic tale of terror, one that manages to evoke the Victorian era in which the story is set, while incorporating modern high-tech elements to create a "steampunk" look.
At its best, the look of "Jekyll & Hyde" is a bit like a good graphic novel come to life, as a series of moving panels and some superb projections (designed by Daniel Brodie) delineate the show's various locales.
There's the insane asylum where Jekyll's father is housed, tacked to a wall like a screaming, writhing butterfly; Jekyll's bachelor digs with its red-flocked walls; the den of iniquity known as the Spider's Web; the formal residence of Jekyll's future father-in-law; and the laboratory where Jekyll puts his theory about man's dual nature into action.
This is not to discount what Maroulis, Cox and the rest of the cast bring to this show. Maroulis skillfully delineates the differences between the repressed and intellectually driven Jekyll and the unleashed and unhinged Hyde - a deliberately thin, wavering singing voice gives way to walloping multi-octave wail whenever Hyde comes out to play.
Cox, as Lucy, the prostitute who falls for Jekyll but must succumb to Hyde, is another powerhouse vocalist who delivers her songs with undeniable emotion, and Teal Wicks, as Jekyll's high-society fiancee, Emma, has a rich, darkly colored voice that makes just about every note soar.
The level of talent in this show, and the energy and enthusiasm with which that talent is shared with an audience, is so high that you wish they had better material to perform than "Jekyll & Hyde."
Director Jeff Calhoun has reworked this particular version, and some of his changes work very well. The staging of "Confrontation," in which the two sides of the main character struggle for supremacy, has been greatly improved from the production we saw in 1999, turning it from what one actor called "a hair ballet" into a scene in which Maroulis as Jekyll engages in a fire-and-brimstone duet with his digitally projected alter ego.
Calhoun also worked with composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Leslie Bricusse to rearrange the score for this production, adding some songs from previous incarnations of the show ("Jekyll & Hyde" debuted in 1990 and has gone through several iterations) and dropping others. The thing is, the songs themselves aren't all that good.
The big numbers - "This is the Moment," "Someone Like You," "A New Life" - are the sort of generic power ballads one used to hear constantly on the radio. They're catchy, and there's no denying that Maroulis and Cox sing them well, making these songs sound better than they are.
But the sentiments these songs express aren't integral to the characters or the story - the connection comes not from what is being sung but the way it's being sung.
Bricusse's lyrics are almost uniformly written in short-lined quatrains that follow an A-B-A-B rhyme pattern and explain action and emotion in the most straightforward way: First, state the obvious, then state it once more; in case you're oblivious, repeat it three times - or four.
That's when one could understand the lyrics. Some segments, such as the ensemble number "Facade" that recurs throughout the show, were often unintelligible.
But then, almost everyone knows the story of "Jekyll & Hyde," so as long as the feeling of what's going on is conveyed, why worry too much about the subtleties? Leave that for the actors to provide.
Fortunately for this production, the cast and creative team of this "Jekyll & Hyde" are working at the peak of their abilities. It's to their credit that there's a lot more good than evil in this show.
'Jekyll & Hyde'
When: Continues with performances 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Tulsa PAC. 101 E. Third St.
Tickets: 918-596-7111, tulsaworld.com/mytix Ticket prices range from $20 to $60.
Original Print Headline: Talented cast, crew breathe new life into weak musical
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox share top billing for the new production of "Jekyll & Hyde," which opened Tuesday, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Courtesy