Good Versus Evil in Jekyll and Hyde
Constantine Maroulis has found a stage worthy of his talent. The former “American Idol” season four finalist and Tony Award nominee stars as the lead roles in the musical Jekyll and Hyde, and he skillfully portrays the battle of good versus evil within the bipolar man who has two identities; the gentle Dr. Henry Jekyll and sinister Edward Hyde. The ability is extraordinary here, captivating the audience from beginning to end with voices that truly showcase the PPAC Theatre’s greatness in acoustics. I have seen a lot of plays at PPAC, and this is one that really brings Broadway home to Providence. Fittingly, the show will actually return to Broadway in April.
The story was adapted for the stage by Tony and Grammy nominee Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, and features a book and lyrics by two-time Oscar winner, Emmy winner and four-time Tony Award nominee Leslie Bricusse. It is directed and choreographed by Tony Award Nominee Jeff Calhoun. Packed with power ballads, the musical requires booming voices from all of its main characters, not only Jekyll and Hyde, but also the outstanding female leads Lucy Harris, a prostitute played by R and B singer Deborah Cox, and her polar opposite, Jekyll’s dignified upper class fiancee Emma Carew, played by Teal Wicks. Cox is a standout performer, having also earned a Grammy Award nomination for her recording career, and Wicks starred in Wicked.
The plot is dark, sinister and exciting with a set to match the driving scores and intense characters. The audience gets an inside look at Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory during the song “This is the Moment,” as he makes the decision to conduct a science experiment on himself, which inevitably transforms him into the psychotic Hyde. Maroulis distinguishes himself between the two roles by fashioning his hair into a neat ponytail and wearing spectacles for the nerdy Jekyll, then he completely alters his gait and demeanor for the evil Hyde while also releasing his chaotic mane of unruly hair that plunges down his shoulders. In fact, his hair deserves its own spot on the cast list and writeup in the playbill.
The stage is completely transformed for each scene, whether it’s inside the insane asylum where Jekyll’s father writhes in mental agony, the interior of Dr. Jekyll’s mansion with immense bookcases and a monstrous lifelike portrait on the wall, or a visit to the Spider’s Web, the night club/brothel where Lucy works. In one of the most show-stopping numbers, “Bring on the Men,” Lucy belts out a sexy song and dance while tantalizing the men on stage using ropes and chairs to symbolize a spider’s web. One of the final scenes even ignites the stage in an all-out digital inferno. If this musical doesn’t get your pulse racing, nothing will.
On the surface, the show may seem all bells and whistles with such elaborate displays and effects, but there are also some simpler underlying themes. As Hyde goes after each board member in the community’s social hierarchy, he reveals that each person also has two sides; one good, one evil, including the bishop who visits the brothel, and even the social snitch Lady Beaconsfield. But even Lucy has two sides as a sinful lady of the night versus a woman with a heart of gold who is simply looking for a way out. Maybe we all have two sides, and it’s only a matter of time before our own Hyde comes out.
Jekyll and Hyde plays at PPAC through January 6. Tickets are on sale through ppacri.org or at 401-421-ARTS (2787). PPAC, 220 Weybosset St., Providence.