“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was originally penned by Scottish author Robert Lewis Stevenson in 1886. It was and remains a dark and chilling drama focusing on what psychiatrists call dissociative identify disorder or more commonly split personality. Over the years the story has made its way to the silver screen and the stage always with a few tweaks and modifications but always sticking to the core story. The latest incarnation has just opened at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles this time with teaks and modifications by Leslie Bricusse, Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden. So the question begs, how does this version of the classic tale play?
The music is as one would expect for a show heading to Broadway, absolutely sensational. The vocal range and power of Deborah Cox as she executes her role as Lucy Harris completely wowed the appreciative audience. Teal Wicks was simply wicked as Emma Carew. Constantine Maroulis is the undisputed star of the show as both Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll Constantine was spot on even riveting. However, as ominous and threatening Edward Hyde I frankly found that Constantine is just a wee bit short. The Hyde character is severely evil and ominous and I didn’t get that feel from Constantine. Oh please do not get me wrong, he executed the part with perfection it’s just that he is not that threatening of a man. That said his vocal skills were evident and awe inspiring. The entire cast was as one would expect from a major theatrical production at the pinnacle of their craft. It was all supported by brilliant orchestration under the direction of Steven Landau.
The pacing and staging was as close to perfection as any human endeavor can be. Here Constantine shined brightly in both roles. There was however one element that fell flat for me and that was the pivotal moment generally known as the confrontation. In my experience the confrontation is a key moment in the show where Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde collide. Typically it is acted out by the actor cast as Jekyll and Hyde and thus it is one man fighting with himself and that dynamic truly reflects the essence of the story. In the current version of Jekyll and Hyde now at the Pantages the confrontation is played by Constantine as Jekyll in conflict with multimedia sounds and images as Mr. Hyde. While I understand the artistic effort I think it lacks the strength of a well executed one man exhibit of deep internal conflict.
So all this said what did I think of the performance overall? Risking possible offense to my exclusively musical theatre readers I will answer by a quick review of this year’s Super Bowl. Both the San Francisco 49‘ers and the Baltimore Ravens made errors, received penalties and threw incomplete passes. Half of the lights went out in the stadium and Beyonce’s half time show just didn’t last long enough. Yet in the end it was arguably the best Super Bowl ever. It was a pure joy to watch. And this is how I would summarize the current offering of Jekyll & Hyde at the Pantages. A few flaws in my opinion but overall a superlative presentation. Watching it will most likely bring you tremendous joy as it also stimulates critical thought as it still does an excellent job of illustrating that persistent human condition of both good and evil. In fact watching the show brought to mind a certain current event involving one Christopher Dorner. Dorner was thought by many to be a really nice guy, just like Dr. Jekyll. But then Dorner was rejected by LAPD much like Dr. Jekyll was rejected by the hospital board. Like Jekyll who in the incarnation of Mr. Hyde killed several of the board members as well as other unrelated persons, Dorner began killing cops along with a few innocent civilians. In the end – well the outcome is much the same. This tragic complexity of man remains compelling from 1886 to 2013 and certainly it shall remain well beyond.
Tickets start at only $25 and the show is recommended only for people age 13 and above. Further information including ticketing and reservations can be made by calling 1-800-982-2787 by going online at www.broadwayla.org. The Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90028. Why not make this a special Valentine for your significant other?
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