Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Noise and Mayhem Rule "Jekyll & Hyde" at Kravis Center


Dr. Hyde as Rock Star at Kravis

By Skip Sheffield

Two outstanding performances distinguish a stripped-down, amped-up production of “Jekyll & Hyde,” continuing through Sunday, March 31 at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
The outstanding performers are Deborah Cox and Teal Wicks, who play the two women in the life of the lead character (s), played by Constantine Maroulis.
Tony-nominated for “Rock of Ages,’ Maroulis is more rock-star type than Broadway performer. As the brilliant, benevolent Dr. Henry Jekyll, Maroulis affects a soft, oddly-accented speaking voice. Physically, his uptightness is shown through his tightly-tied hair and professorial steel-rimmed glasses.
In case the audience doesn’t “get” the troubled nature of Dr. Jekyll, there is an opening scene which displays a deranged, strait-jacketed patient on a patient bed. Dr. Jekyll has made it his life’s work to examine the dual good-evil nature of man, and find some way to extract the bad and preserve the good. Anyone who has read the original Robert Louis Stevenson novella knows how that went. The patient is Dr. Jekyll’s father.
When the stuffy, conservative medical board refuses to allow Dr. Jekyll to experiment on an incarcerated mental patient, he decides to experiment on himself.
This stripped-down version of the 1997 Leslie Bricusse-Frank Wildhorn Broadway show has streamlined, much simplified sets, amplified by projected video images and lightening-like lighting. The main character’s inner thoughts are displayed in script on a screen.
When Dr. Jekyll transforms into the infamous, murderous Edward Hyde, he loses the spectacles, lets down the hair, and speaks in a menacing growl.
Leslie Bricusse’s score has never been one of my favorites, and his lyrics are worse: trite and predictable. “This is the Moment” is probably the most famous song; popular at sporting events, but my personal favorite is “In His Eyes,” a duet sung by the very different characters of virginal, proper Emma (“Wicked” veteran Teal Carew), Dr. Hyde’s fiancĂ©e, and Lucy (Deborah Cox), the sensuous dance house girl who arouses Mr. Hyde’s more carnal feelings.
Carew has a classically lovely, wide-ranging soprano with perfect enunciation. Cox knocks it out of the park with an earthier, R&B-style belt. The women are terrific together in that brief moment, and it overshadows all the other rather shallow, cartoonish characters.
This Broadway-bound show is clearly aimed at a younger audience, weaned on “American Idol,” “The Voice” and rock concerts. The tumultuous finale after “The Wedding” is such an overblown spectacle of sound, light and garish projections it reminded me of Alice Cooper performing “Welcome to My Nightmare.”
Maybe that is the aim of director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun. Broadway certainly needs younger audiences to survive. Deborah Cox’s fans turned out in force, and by all appearances were delighted. We shall see when the show hits New York.
Tickets are $25 up. Call 800-572-8471 or go to

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