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A CurtainUp Review
Jekyll & Hyde
by Joan Eshkenazi

The songs from Jekyll & Hyde seem to tell it all. . .

"This Is The Moment" that we can finally hum and recall a show's tunes. "A New Life" has come to Broadway even if it is imbued with "Good N' Evil" and it is "Alive" with great talent. The sophisticated staging makes "Someone Like You" and me fascinated with the production. However, this pop-opera cleverly composed by Frank Wildhorn with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse is a "Facade" of the original story by Robert Louis Stevenson and does not create deep feelings of "Sympathy, Tenderness," along with compassion for the characters. Instead it has us go along with the ride of Hyde's "Dangerous Game" of "Murder, Murder" with his "Confrontation" with his "Obsession" as he is "Lost In The Darkness." As you can conclude, this show smoothly moves us from song to song "Letting Go" with vocal artistry.

The battle between good and evil and the dual personality of man is the theme of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"by Stevenson. The Broadway version uses the book more as inspiration than as an accurate rendering. The play elaborates on a love theme, making the sinister amifications of man attempting to play God appear less important. We simply see on stage a man possessed by a desire to control man's fate embarking upon a drug induced flight into the realm of the inner sanctums of evil inherent in man.

The highly talented Robert Cuccioli plays both Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde well. With ponytail and posture as his props, he successfully transforms himself into the alter character. One becomes captivated as he performs his own duet This on-stage metamorphoses created by the flinging of his hair, along with a raging voice expressing his agony, is the highlight of the evening.

Linda Eder appears to be the chanteuse of the season. As Lucy, she is the one character who elicits feelings from us. As a singer, (already being compared by many to Barbra Streisand), she is outstanding. With her good looks and belting voice, she capture the audience.

Christiane Noll creates a sympathetic Emma. Ms. Noll is an appealing presence in this show which marks her Broadway debut and has a pleasant voice. Her duet with Ms. Eder is rousing. George Merritt as John Utterson, Dr. Jekyll's lawyer, performs his role well. I wish he had more opportunity to display his rich operatic baritone voice.

Fire plays a major, symbolic role--be it the warmth of the hearth (Jekyll's home), the foreboding blazes from the Bunsen burners (Jekyll's lab), the immolation committed by Hyde to the trash can flames of the poor. I found myself wondering why the theater's alarm system remained silent.

Robin Phillips has skillfully directed the production production and together with James Noone created the stunning sets. The red and black motifs effectively transport us from home to whorehouse. to home. Ann Curtis provided the handsome costumes There is not much in dance, but Joey Pizzi adequately placed and positioned this cast of characters.

This musical adaptation of Dr. Jekyll's well-known endeavor to play God comes to New York with a following gleaned from all over the country since its Houston opening in 1990. The music has gained familiarity through use by stellar ice skaters and other prominent performers in world-wide events. If you are a Jeckie, this is of course a must see. If you want to be entertained by an exciting evening of theater, this may or may not be the moment. After all, it is only a facade.

JEKYLL & HYDE based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson
Book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Starring Robert Cucciole and Linda Eder
Directed by Robin Phillips
Plymouth Theater, 236 W. 45 ST. (212)239-6200
Opening date 4/28/97; reviewed 5/03/97
anuary 7, 2001 closing
Editor's Note: Some background on the story that inspired Jekyll and Hyde, the musical and the show's fan-building odyssey from idea to Broadway:

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", is the masterpiece of the Scottish Writer Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), also famous for A Child's Garden of Verses, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow and many fine essays that expressed his attitude to life.

Since its first publication in 1886, "The Strange Case" has never ceased to fascinate readers and the name of Dr. Jekyll's evil alter-ego Mr. Hyde has become part of our every day language as a metaphor for evil. It has also never been out of print.

The tale besides reflecting the Victorian era as a trigger for exploding the separation of "virtue" and "vice" can also be seen as another take on the scientific tampering with nature associated with Frankenstein.

The Stevenson novella has been filmed several times as a straight melodrama. Their injection of romantic elements which were absent from the book was decried by novelist and critic Vladimir Nabokov as "monstrous, abominable, atrocious, criminal, foul, vile, youth-depraving." (Imagine if he'd seen what Bricusse and Wildhorne had wrought?)

The musical actually goes even further back than its four-year tour. It was created in 1980 by Frank Wildhorn, with Steve Cuden preceding Leslie Bricusse as the lyricist. Ten years passed before its first staging in Houston at the Alley Theatre, with Jekyll/Hyde played by Chuck Wagner and Linda Eder as Lucy. The first staging was in 1990 at the Alley Theatre in Houston, with Jekyll/Hyde played by Chuck Wagner and Linda Eder as Lucy.

While a number of songs have been dropped en route to Broadway, the long road trip has seeded fan clubs and a mailing list of paid subscribers where these "lost" songs are much lamented. There's even a role-playing Jekyll-Hyde Group. The show's big anthem "This Is the Moment" has found its way onto several other records including one by the Moody Blues for their '94 World Cup album, "Soccer Rocks the Globe" been recorded. The most famous ice skater strutting his stuff to this number was Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie in his 1992 exhibition program

General critical response since the 4/29 opening: mixed.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


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