Book and Lyrics by leslie Bricusse
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Directed & Choreographed by Jeff Calhoun
Produced by Broadway in Chicago
At the Palace Theatre, Chicago
Over produced spectacle doesn’t make up for lack of heart
I have always thought that Jekyll & Hyde doesn’t sing and therefore isn’t ripe material for a musical. This current pre-Broadway production only reinforced that for me. J & H could be a spine-shingling Grand Guignol horrific drama like the one Northlight Theatre mounted a few years ago but it is not. J & H is filled with that most annoying talk-singing (think Andrew Lloyd Webber NOT opera) that, when sung in a chorus, becomes unintelligible rendering plot points confusing at best. I’ll never understand why producers are so bent on having dialogue sung? Why not speak up to the point where a song is called for and stop all that annoying semi-recitative? One wonders?
J & H relies too much on style, staging and video and lighting gimmicks to convey the dreadful murderous acts of Hyde. We don’t get to know, much less like Jekyll, so when Hyde emerges, we are not surprised. Constantine Maroulis shouts and screams his songs relying on increased volume to convey dread and angst. Maroulis’ sameness, sans letting his hair untied, fails to differentiate enough between Jekyll and Hyde. His Hyde lacks the horrific nastiness as Hyde seems to have a semi-comic effects he stacks his victims. I also thought that he butchered Jekyll’s big first act anthem “This is the Moment.” The opening night audience seemed to like the American Idol contestant more that I did.
The most effective and endearing character in this show is Lucy, the prostitute that J & H both frequent. Deborah Cox knocks her several tunes out of the park. Her “Someone Like You’ and her “A New Life Life” were sung with so much style and emotion that they landed as true show-stoppers. Cox is the best performer in this show!
Jekyll & Hyde tries to be scarey, to convey menace but it just doesn’t have enough heart mainly due to us not caring enough about Jekyll nor his fiance Emma (sung nicely by Teal Wicks). This production of J & H has more gimmicks and staging tricks than empathetic heroes. We need to care more about Jekyll’s passion to get us to cheer for him. The show could use a few more songs and less singing dialogue. But fans of this show will probably enjoy the Broadway-pop style of the songs. If only there was more frightful moments. J & H only runs through March 24, 2012
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 14, 2013
For more info checkout Jekyll & Hyde page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $33 – $95, Tuesdays thru Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Wednesdays & Sunday matinees at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through March 24, 2013