At the end of “Jekyll & Hyde” at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theater, the audience rose en masse to offer a well-deserved standing ovation to the leads of this pre-Broadway touring production: hot American Idol star Constantine Maroulis and hotter R&B star Deborah Cox. They brought down the house with their portrayals of the good doctor and his bad alter ego and the illiterate prostitute who just wants someone to love her.
The dark and spooky musical is just the ticket for getting reluctant teens to the theater. Maroulis’ good looks and star power and Cox’s lingerie costuming serve to seal the deal. Watching Maroulis physically transform in body, voice and hair from the sweet, responsible doctor into the angry, murderous Hyde alone is worth the price of a ticket.
Everything about this production seemed to reflect the split personality of its title character. The contrast between the Victorian purity of the “good” people in the life of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and the underbelly of life at the Spider Web brothel dominated by Cox’s Lucy Harris, who harbors a “Pretty Woman” fantasy of life with the good doctor. The quiet presence of Dr. Jekyll and the power of his alter ego. Even the pacing of the play ricocheted between the exhilarating yin of the powerful numbers to the lulling yang of the quieter songs.
The story line follows the exploits of the good Dr. Jekyll, who is engaged to be married. But he is driven to search for the cause of evil in his vain effort to save his father, who has gone mad. When the haughty members of the hospital board refuse Jekyll’s request to experiment on a patient, he returns to his lab and begins to experiment on himself, only to discover the true evil lurking inside.
So much of the staging was reminiscent of other grand musicals–particularly the hospital board scene that conjured images of the jail scene in “Chicago” — that initially I couldn’t decide whether it was intentionally mimicking those shows or simply a poor knock-off. But as the show wore on, the power of the leads overcame any shortcomings in the material. Without such powerful voices and talented actors, I’m not sure there would be enough to keep an audience enthralled, much less bring them to their feet at the end.
This pre-Broadway touring production of Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical is at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theater through March 24, 2013. Ticket prices range from $33-$95.
Cindy Richards is the Editor-in-Chief of TravelingMom.com and the mom of two terrific teens. Follower her on Twitter @CindyRichards