Review: 'Jekyll & Hyde' overwrought, in a good way
This theater publicity image released by The Hartman Group shows Constantine Maroulis, left, and Deborah Cox during a performance of "Jekyll & Hyde" playing at the Marquis Theatre in New York. (AP Photo/The Hartman Group, Chris Bennion)
NEW YORK (AP) — Yes, it is bombastic and overwrought. It's true that there's enough smoke to make three Whitesnake videos. OK, it sometimes makes "The Phantom of the Opera" seem small and staid.
But there's something to cheer about in the revival of "Jekyll & Hyde" that has rolled into Broadway after a 25-week national tour. It is what it is, and it does that very well. It's a big, loud rock opera and makes no apologies for itself. Nor should it. If you wanted a subtle musical without stabbings and bondage, what exactly are you doing at "Jekyll & Hyde"?
The new version that opened Thursday at the Marquis Theatre — arriving 16 years after its debut — takes itself so seriously that it almost veers into camp, but it's a stunningly beautiful steampunk vision with great costumes, projections and sets.
Plus, the three main vocalists who came along to sing these Frank Wildhorn songs will make your ears bleed: Constantine Maroulis, Deborah Cox and Teal Wicks. Who cares if there's way too much lightening and overacting? These three can deliver, some even while wearing naughty Victorian outfits.
This theater publicity image released by The Hartman Group shows Deborah Cox during a performance of "Jekyll & Hyde" playing at the Marquis Theatre in New York. (AP Photo/The Hartman Group, Chris Bennion)
Director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun — so apple-cheeked with "Newsies" and trying-to-be-understanding in Wildhorn's recent "Bonnie & Clyde" — has tapped into his Hyde side with this overripe tale of a scientist whose attempt to isolate the bad element in man leads to a split personality. There's a little bondage, a pretty graphic suicide, some slapping around, filthy hookers, rough sex and five cold-blooded murders. Leave the kids at home.
Maroulis, the former "American Idol" contestant who earned a Tony Award nomination for "Rock of Ages," proves a gifted singer if not the most nuanced of actors in the title role. His hair — ponytailed as the gentleman Jekyll and free-flowing when he becomes the hedonistic Hyde — gets a workout. (He also, Clark Kent-ish, wears glasses when he's mild-mannered.) This guy, reared in "Rock of Ages," can toss his mane around better than any 1980s hair-band singers.