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Broadway-bound JEKYLL & HYDE revisal is excellent…(Tour review, Detroit) December 2, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Broadway Tour, musical theater, Musicals.
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There’s no way around it…you either love Jekyll & Hyde the musical or you hate it…and this production might just change a few minds for those who don’t. Completely restaged, reimagined, re-orchestrated and more in line with the original concept album than the 97 Broadway production, the revised Broadway bound Jekyll & Hyde is magnificent and gets just about everything right that the original did not.

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Constantine Maroulis is excellent as Jekyll/Hyde as is Deborah Cox as Lucy. Teal Wicks turns in an emotional and heartfelt Emma and Laird Mackintosh as Utterson is steadfast and steady. Round it out with a fine supporting cast that never seems superfluous and never meanders across the stage without purpose as in the past production and you have a Broadway-ready cast and crew. All 20 cast members here are strong. Maroulis in particular is superb in the duel role of Jekyll and Hyde and he is in fine voice. Before the American Idol folks chime in, let me just remind people that before he was on that contest, he was a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and had done work at the Williamstown Theater Festival. He sings the part better than any performer I have heard in this part professionally.

Moodily atmospheric, Tobin Ost’s sets and costumes are stunning–and the stage far less cluttered and claustrophobic than the original…it works perfectly, complemented by Daniel Brodie’s excellent projections and Jeff Croiter’s rock-concert type lighting. The set and projections are so intertwined I’m not sure who to praise more, Tobin or Daniel, so I will praise them both.

Particularly effective here are the Fascade number (previously ensemble milling around in clumps) where, instead, maids and butlers dress the performers who play the Hospital Board of Governors. Another problematic number “Confrontation” which originally saw Jekyll turning his body side to side while singing “duet” with Hyde, here instead sings with a projection of Hyde, and it is magnificent projection design. Maroulis does very good vocal work here.

The one weakness at the Fisher is the sound design, which needs tweaking once it reaches the Richard Rodgers Theater, where it will no-doubt sound better than in the airplane-hanger-sized barn that is the Fisher Theater in Detroit.

This is a brand new show unlike the original and far superior to it. Who knew?  Clearly Frank Wildhorn did, as this reworked production is masterful. Credit director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun who manages it all at lightning pace without ever once missing a beat, while also not giving short-shrift to the quiet moments and emotion. Its very good work, and will surely be recognized at Tony time (as will, no doubt Tobin Ost’s set and Maroulis’s Jekyll/Hyde).  It comes in at 2:25 including intermission, and that is just right for this show. The great-looking scenery motion adds to the thrill — there are big pieces moving around here, and they flip and spin and rotate and revolve and form and reform like a gigantic erector set. No test-tubes and flickering candles in this lab, but an eerie, gothic, moody sensibility pervades everything.

Instant standing ovation at the end — expected of course, since this show has always thrilled audiences more than critics. I’ve been fortunate to direct this musical twice now…a few years from now, I am looking forward to directing this revised version somewhere, someday. Its superb. New Yorkers, feel free to purchase your tickets now — its coming in as a big fat certified hit.

I suppose I could have made this a much shorter review by just simply writing “I loved this production, go see it.”
Bravo.

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Comments

1. MSD - December 3, 2012

I’ll leave this equally short……Bravo!!!!

2. J Yes - December 3, 2012

Thank you for one of the most well-written, and in my opinion, spot-on reviews of the revised Jekyll and Hyde that I’ve read yet! I saw this new production – more than once, I confess- when it first opened on the west coast in Sept and can’t wait til it plays the Pantages in LA in Feb.
Frank Wildhorn recently said (in an interview) that he wrote the part of Jekyll/Hyde for someone exactly like Constantine; Jeff Calhoun had a similar comment even more recently when he said Constantine was born to play this role. He puts heart and soul into every second he is on stage, and the same can be said for every member of the cast. The entire production is a stellar theatrical treat!.


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