In 1990, I stumbled across a CD for $1 in the bargain bin. It was a 3-song sampler for the musical “Jekyll & Hyde.” While I love to try out new musicals, besides the $1 price tag, I wanted this because Colm Wilkinson played the lead on the CD and I loved him from “Les Miserables.”
That $1 purchase was one of my best investment. Not only did I love all three songs, but it introduced me to Linda Eder, who has a rich, show stopping voice that gave me tingles.
After recording a concept album and even releasing a complete works, “Jekyll & Hyde” finally made it to Broadway after seven years of out-of-town tryouts. And while several songs and cast members had changed, Eder was still in – probably because she was married to the composer Frank Wildhorn.
While not a hit with critics (surprising as there are many great songs in the show), it did develop a cult following of Jekkies, who saw the show out of town and numerous times on Broadway. The original Broadway production had lost some of its best songs too before premiering on Broadway inclduing “Bring on the Men” and “Love Has Come of Age.”
Fast-forward to 2013 and “Jekyll” is back and with some elements better the second time around.
Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis further establishes himself as a Broadway superstar. He’s resume has quickly become so impressive that he will likely be one of the first names suggested for future musical shows. He has long buried the “American Idol” runner-up title that was suppose to make him the new lead singer of Queen. Instead, he’s taken a smart detour to musical theatre and has proven he has the pipes in “The Wedding Singer,” “Rock of Ages” and in particular this production of “Jekyll & Hyde.”
When Maroulis sings, you can hear him to the very last row of the theatre and he creates the same goose pimples that Eder evoked in the original production. Jekkies are expecting Maroulis to blow us away with his signature song, “This is the Moment,” which he does. But he surprises and capivates throughout all songs, in particular his “duet” with himself “Reflections.”
Alas though Maroulis is not perfect. He does a great job with his British accent which caught me by surprise that his acting was almost on par with his singing. But as the show went on, his accent suddenly became Irish. It would have been great if Jekyll was British and Hyde was Irish – but the accent seemed not to stick to one character. He has until June 30 when the short run ends to work that out.
Stepping into the Cinderella perfect glass slippers of Lucy played to the hilt by Eder, is singer Deborah Cox, who is also no stranger to Broadway. Cox does well with her material and proves to be quite a strong actress. Her voice is also fine but doesn’t seem to have the breadth and scope of Eder’s. Yet, if this is your first time seeing the show and you don’t know of Eder, Cox shouldn’t disappoint.
Another great addition to this show is Teal Wicks, as Emma, who makes a love triangle with Jekyll and Lucy. The character this time around is more fully developed and Wicks has her chance to shine, in particular with the song “In His Eyes,” a duet with Cox. Oh, and if anyone is listening, I have always said this tune needs to be on a future Barbra Streisand Broadway album and she should do it with Linda Eder.
Director/Choreographer Jeff Calhoun has made better use of the stage than the original production. With his staging, the songs seem more in character rather than a concert version.
Story-wise “Jekyll” is a good, but a familiar tale that doesn’t take a lot of chances. But these songs are, for the most part, pop-oriented, fun and ORIGINAL tunes that you will sing your way out of the theatre, and download all the various incarnations of this show.
This production is on a limited run through June at New York’s Marquis Theatre. Get tickets and more information at www.jekyllandhydemusical.com.