Can we change the title of Jekyll & Hyde, Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s musical thriller, to “Jekyll & Hyde…& Lucy”? If there is one reason (and from my perspective there are several) to see this revival that also stars former American Idol contestant and Tony award nominee Constantine Maroulis, it is the star performance belted out by Grammy Award nominated and multi-platinum R&B/pop recording artist and film/TV actress Deborah Cox.
Yes, technically the familiar story revolves around Dr. Henry Jekyll, a bespectacled-wearing scientist who seeks to discover a medical breakthrough to ease the human mind and instead reveals his inner demon: Edward Hyde. Maroulis throws himself full force into the role, as well as around the stage as he thrashes, screeches and hair tosses his way through Wildhorn’s vocal gymnastics.
The original 1997 production featured a menacing Robert Cuccioli who delivered perhaps a deeper, more nuanced performance, but times have changed and Maroulis’s searing voice bridges the gap between musical theater and pop/rock. Cranked to ear drum-bursting decibels, Maroulis must be surviving on hot tea and throat lozenges to make it through an eight-show week. Fortunately he is supported by a top-notch cast of seasoned Broadway veterans and a co-star that can keep pace.
Broadway has increasingly relied on name recognition to sell tickets. The Chicago revival, running since 1996, has featured guest appearances ranging from Brooke Shields and Melanie Griffith to most recently Wendy Williams, who will join the cast this June. But Deborah Cox is no marquee trick. Cox rocks Jekyll & Hyde — embodying a sultry, sensual and pitch-perfect performance that has audiences leaping to their feet.
Director/Choreographer Jeff Calhoun is the mad scientist behind the production and his reinterpretation of the story pushes this version of Jekyll & Hyde more toward rock opera than musical theater. The creative use of projections by Daniel Brodie aid in the swiftly paced scenes while set/costume designer Tobin Oust sets the tone for a fantastical version of 19th century London.
Crabby theatergoers might roll their eyes at Jekyll & Hyde but you could do far worse for a guilty pleasure on the Great White Way. For a night of bloodcurdling theater, Jekyll & Hyde injects a dose of Broadway star power that’s well worth going a little bit mad.
Jekyll & Hyde