Providence Performing Arts Center
Last Tuesday evening, I saw the opening performance of Jekyll & Hyde at the Providence Performing Arts Center. The production is currently on a 25-city national tour that will conclude with a Broadway revival at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in April. Based on the novella, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, the original production ran on Broadway from 1997 to 2001. Music was written by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Wildhorn, Steve Cuden, and Leslie Bricusse, and book by Bricusse.
Synopsis: Jekyll & Hyde is the story of the brilliant, but obsessive, Dr. Henry Jekyll, who longs to understand why man is both good and evil in order to help his institutionalized father. He proposes to test his theory on a human subject, but to Jekyll’s dismay, his proposal is rejected by the Board of Governors and he is called a “madman”. With the faith and support of his fiance, Emma Carew, Jekyll decides to conduct his experiment on himself. Injecting himself with a potion, he is taken over by his evil personality, a character called Edward Hyde, who goes on a malicious killing spree. And so begins the struggle between the two personalities, or rather, the struggle between good and evil. In the end, Jekyll finally realizes that there is no way to control Hyde, and the only way to prevent further harm is to kill himself.
Comments: The role of Jekyll/Hyde was played by Constantine Maroulis. Maroulis proves that his talents go far beyond the world of “American Idol”, if he hadn’t already proven that during his Tony-nominated performance in Rock of Ages. He has a soaring tenor voice that is well-suited for this pop-rock score. He alternates from the thoughtful, reserved Jekyll to the vile, maleficent Hyde with ease and clarity. He is very well-cast in this role.
As Lucy, Deborah Cox is given some of the best songs in Wildhorn’s score; “Bring on the Men”, “Sympathy, Tenderness”, “Someone Like You”, and “In His Eyes”, a duet with Emma, and I thought she did these songs justice. She has a strong belt and her voice has a modern sound rather than the traditional Broadway belt, but this seemed to work for the role. Her singing was one of the most enjoyable things about the show. Her acting was solid and I really enjoyed her scenes with Jekyll.
Teal Wicks played Emma Carew, and she was outstanding. On Broadway, she was most recently seen in Wicked as Elphaba, and it was delightful to see her portray another strong, yet completely different type of character. Her singing voice is beautiful, as she alternates between belt and soprano. “In His Eyes”, a duet between Emma and Lucy, is one of the highlights of the show.
I thought that Frank Wildhorn’s score was very good with several memorable songs. The score has an early 90’s, pop-rock feel to it, which was amplified by Deborah Cox’s modern R&B voice. Constantine sang the heck out of “This is the Moment”, which was a huge audience-pleaser!
My only complaint is that I couldn’t understand most of Constantine’s lyrics, but I think this is related to poor acoustics at PPAC and not his performance.
I also have to mention the awesome projections of Hyde lurking on the stage during intermission. Very spooky.