Constantine Maroulis as Henry Jekyll.
JEKYLL & HYDE by Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn (Nederlander Presentations/Mirvish). At the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria). To November 18. $29-$150. 416-872-1212. See listing. Rating: NN
A day after seeing the musical Jekyll & Hyde, I'm still humming a couple of its numbers.
Chalk that up to composer Frank Wildhorn's ability to write memorable melodies - not surprising, since he's penned songs for Whitney Houston and Natalie Cole. Unfortunately, his power with power ballads seems out-of-place in a full-length musical set in Victorian England, and his tunes, combined with Leslie Bricusse's banal book and lyrics, never add up to anything coherent or compelling.
That's a shame, because the revival, which is touring North America before a Broadway run next spring, has some fine source material in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel about mankind's divided nature.
Upper-crust doctor Dr. Henry Jekyll (Constantine Maroulis), through some vague scientific experiment, unleashes an id-like creature inside him named Mr. Hyde (also Maroulis) who begins to take over Jekyll's life, killing his enemies, engaging in some 50 Shades Of Grey-like behaviour with a prostitute named Lucy (Deborah Cox) and definitely upsetting his upcoming nuptials with his fiancée Emma (Teal Wicks).
This theme of coexisting good and evil has been explored in works as diverse as The Fly, Frankenstein and (closer to the Broadway stage) Phantom of The Opera and Sweeney Todd. But what the show lacks is compelling characters.
The part of Jekyll is so dull we don't care about his relationship with Emma or Lucy, and Maroulis, best known as an American Idol finalist, fails to add anything to make the character sympathetic. He's much better as Hyde, a transformation achieved simply by taking off Jekyll's glasses, letting his long hair loose (why would the doctor have long hair in the first place?) and donning a cape. And his ability to screech out high notes with some accuracy (the guy starred in Rock Of Ages on Broadway, after all) comes in handy here too.
R&B diva Cox, meanwhile, seems comfortable onstage as the hooker with the heart of gold, even if her renditions of two of the show's most catchy songs seem better suited to a concert than the theatre.
In fact, the whole production might work better in a concert version, since it's decently, if uniquely, sung.
That way we wouldn't wonder about such logical things like: why aren't any police investigating the murders Mr. Hyde has committed?
We'd also be spared the tacky imagery projected onto screens, including what looks like a Rob Zombie music video that's meant to suggest Mr. Hyde's eeeevil intention to permanently take over Jekyll near the end.