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Passion and Power Drives “Jekyll & Hyde” at DPAC

Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox will star as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Lucy Harris in this Broadway-bound production of "Jekyll & Hyde" (photo by Chris Bennion)

Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox will star as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Lucy Harris in this Broadway-bound production of “Jekyll & Hyde” (photo by Chris Bennion)

The expression “He’s a real Jekyll and Hyde” has come to embody the duality of human persona.  Constantine Maroulis’ characterization of those familiar battles — between good and evil and between science and nature — brought cheers from the audience at the Durham Performing Arts Center many times during Tuesday’s opening-night performance of Nederlander Presentations, Inc.’s Broadway-bound presentation of Jekyll & Hyde, composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist and librettist Leslie Bricusse’s 1997 Broadway musical based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella.

But Maroulis isn’t the only performer to bring a powerful and passionate presence to this dark play. His leading ladies (Deborah Cox as the prostitute Lucy and Teal Wicks as Dr. Jekyll’s fiancée Emma Carew) also filled the stage with both believable and tender characterizations.

Originally published in 1886, Stevenson’s story was entitled Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and meant as a treatise on the study of schizophrenia, a subject with which Stevenson was fascinated. He wrote the story so feverishly — committing the first draft to paper within days, then burning it and rewriting the final version within less than a week — that many thought his writing was cocaine-induced.

The story about Dr. Jekyll and his frustration with being unable to obtain financial support for his research begins with a look behind the scenes at the emotional root for Jekyll’s scientific questions: his father is being treated for insanity. Stevenson’s audience immediately commiserated with the character’s need for the research and was thus drawn into the story and ultimately enmeshed with the reasons why Jekyll conducts the experiments on himself. The experiment is designed to unleash the darker side of the human personality, thus Edward Hyde becomes Jekyll’s doppelganger.

As Hyde, the doctor roams the streets of London, murdering those who didn’t assist Dr. Jekyll and becoming involved with a house of prostitution and the tender-hearted Lucy. When the experiments go awry and he is unable to control his murderous self (Mr. Hyde), Dr. Jekyll tries in vain to correct his experiment and when finally unable to, has no choice but to kill both selves in order to save the woman he loves (Emma Carew) and humanity itself from the evils that the demonic Hyde has wreaked.

DPAC‘s opening-night performance started off a bit sketchy with Maroulis’ opening number (“Lost in the Darkness”), introducing the gentle Dr. Henry Jekyll. His voice failed toward the end of the song, and audience members questioned whether or not this “American Idol” runner-up was strong enough to carry the whole performance.

In addition, the spotlights did not closely follow the characters’ movements, often making DPAC patrons wonder whether they had rehearsed together. But by the time the second solo (“I Need to Know”) began, Maroulis had moved beyond what must have been a bit of nervousness and into the two roles, segueing effectively from the meek Dr. Jekyll into the growling and murderous Mr. Hyde with a simple flip of his hair and removal or addition of a pair of eyeglasses.

There were times when Maroulis as Hyde appeared to darken and grow taller right on stage, a feat that has to be witnessed to be believed.

The lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn create many opportunities for the cast to explore both the range and the power of their voices. Although Constantine Maroulis, Teal Wicks, and Deborah Cox are, indeed, the stars, there is no obvious weakness in the supporting cast, all of whom portray their characters with appropriate formality or grittiness.

That juxtaposition of formality or grittiness also serves to highlight the main theme of good vs. evil by showing the polarities in class evident in London during the time of Stevenson’s original story. There is no “middle class” in this story, just the wealthy upper class and their lower class servants.

Several of Maroulis’ and Cox’s solos literally soared off the stage, such as “Transformation,” which is the moment Dr. Jekyll first turns into Mr. Hyde, a song that offers Maroulis the opportunity to literally growl out the song and to display to the audience the incredible command he has over his powerful voice, as well as his ability to move from one character to another and to fully personify each of them. In addition, his “Confrontation” between the two characters, done with a set of ‘mirrors’ that is quite effective, brought the audience to its feet.

Deborah Cox, a Grammy Award®-nominated R&B/pop recording artist, effortlessly belted her solos and moved on stage in such a sultry fashion that one believe she was made for this role. Her solo “Someone Like You” is a signature moment of this production, and she has made it truly memorable. Her well-trained and diverse voice is able to move from a tender moment to a sensual one and draws the audience into her characterization of the prostitute who has fallen in love with Dr. Jekyll, a man she realizes is far beyond her station in life.

When Cox and Teal Wicks meet on stage for the duet “In His Eyes,” where they sing from their heart about the man they both love (Jekyll), there is another nod to the play’s theme, because these women are representative of both sides of the female spectrum (the proper and wealthy Emma vs. the poor and street-wise Lucy). Their voices also reflect that comparison with Wicks sounding like a well-trained opera star and Cox is an effortless, casual Broadway songstress.

By the time this violent story comes to its appropriate end, the audience stands and cheers not for the iconic tale of our own duality but for the commanding performances that Maroulis and his co-stars deliver to DPAC‘s audience. For those who scoff at the stars created by the “American Idol” machine, Constantine Maroulis delivers a number of searing solos and performances in other Broadway shows that have proven his mettle as both singer and actor. Stevenson would have been proud.

DPAC CONTENT ADVISORY: This show is for mature audiences only. Parental guidance is suggested. Everyone must have a ticket regardless of age; children under 5 will not be admitted to the theater.

SECOND OPINION: Jan. 9th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Larissa Mount: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Reviews-On-the-Way-to-Broadway-JEKYLL-HYDE-Comes-to-Durham-20130109; Jan. 9th Durham, NC Herald-Sun review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment/x1506654166/REVIEW-Jekyll-Hyde-a-gritty-look-at-two-faces and Jan. 3rd preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/x1898435923/Constantine-Maroulis-is-Jekyll-Hyde, Dec. 20th interview with Constantine Maroulis, conducted by David Clarke: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Interviews-Constantine-Maroulis-Gives-Inside-Scoop-on-JEKYLL-HYDE-20121220, and Dec. 20th interview with Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, conducted by Audra Stafford: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-TV-Exclusive-Interviews-with-Maroulis-Cox-Behind-the-Scenes-and-More-of-JEKYLL-HYDE-20121220 (Note: You have to register to read these articles); Jan. 9th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Chris Vitiello (who awarded the show 2.5 out of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/artery/archives/2013/01/09/leave-em-wanting-more-deborah-cox-sparkles-briefly-in-jekyll-and-hyde-at-dpac and Jan. 2nd mini-preview by Zack Smith: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/jekyll-and-hyde-the-musical/Event?oid=3154749; Jan. 9th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/01/09/2594031/review-strong-voices-still-carry.html; Jan. 9th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts & Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/01/dpac-starts-the-new-year-off-right-with-a-rocking-performance-of-jekyll-and-hyde/; and Sept. 21st Playbill.com preview by Sheryl Flatow: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/170213-Constantine-Maroulis-Takes-the-Two-Faces-of-Jekyll-and-Hyde-on-the-Road. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Jan. 5th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell and Jan. 10th review by Dawn Reno Langley, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/01/dpacs-broadway-bound-production-of-jekyll-hyde-stars-constantine-maroulis-and-deborah-cox/ and http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/01/passion-and-power-drives-jekyll-hyde-at-dpac/, respectively.)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents JEKYLL & HYDE, starring Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10, 8 p.m. Jan. 11, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 12, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at DPAC, in the American Tobacco District, at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $42.50-$111.00 (including fees), except $17.50 Student Rush Tickets (plus service fee if purchased online), located on Row P of the Balcony.

BOX OFFICE:

DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), tickets@dpacnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/how_to_buy_tickets.

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/803916.

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/group_services.

SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/jekyll-hyde.

VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.jekyllandhydemusical.com/video/.

SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/getting_here.

PARKING: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/parking_guide.

OTHER LINKS:

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (book): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde (Wikipedia).

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (e-text): http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42 (Project Gutenberg).

Robert Louis Stevenson: http://www.robert-louis-stevenson.org/ (Edinburgh University) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Louis_Stevenson (Wikipedia).

Jekyll & Hyde (musical): http://www.jekyll-hyde.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jekyll_&_Hyde_(musical) (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=4863 (Internet Broadway Database).

Frank Wildhorn: http://www.frankwildhorn.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Wildhorn (Wikipedia).

Leslie Bricusse: http://www.lesliebricusse.com/index.php (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Bricusse (Wikipedia).

The Tour: http://www.jekyllandhydemusical.com/ (official website).

The Tour Cast: http://www.jekyllandhydemusical.com/company/cast/ (official web page).

The Tour Creative Team: http://www.jekyllandhydemusical.com/company/creative/ (official web page).

Nederlander Presentations, Inc.: http://www.nederlander.com/ (official website).

Jeff Calhoun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Calhoun_(choreographer) (Wikipedia).

Constantine Maroulis: http://www.constantinemaroulis.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_Maroulis (Wikipedia).

Deborah Cox: http://www.deborahcox.com/home/ (official website) and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah_Cox (Wikipedia).

Laird Mackintosh: http://www.lairdmackintosh.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laird_Mackintosh_(actor) (Wikipedia).

EDITORS NOTE:

Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater reviews. She is also Dean of General Education and Developmental Studies at Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, where she oversees the theater program at the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex, and a member of the Person County Arts Council. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/.

This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review. To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.

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