Photograph: Courtesy of Jekyll & Hyde
For misogyny and bombast, it’s tough to top the adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde currently playing at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theater.
Consider “Dangerous Game,” a duet between the dastardly Edward Hyde and Lucy, a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold (is there any other kind?). One moment, he’s beating her senseless. The next, she’s swooning about how his eyes invade her soul. And the next, the two are entwined in a passionate embrace, heavily breathing about their “dangerous passion.” Right. Because nothing gets a woman in the mood like getting cut, punched, and slapped around first. Also truly irritating: Hyde gets to keep his pants on for the duet. Lucy is stuck singing in her underwear.
So goes one of a myriad of ultra-annoying scenes in this lame-ass staging of Robert Louis Stevenson’s late-19th century novel, brought to you by Frank Wildhorn (music) and Leslie Bricusse (book and lyrics).
The production could be titled When Bad Shows Happen to Good Performers. There’s no denying the vocal prowess of American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis (Jekyll/Hyde) and multi-platinum recording artist Deborah Cox (Lucy). The two can belt, although one wonders how long Maroulis’ voice will last, given the fact that he screams at least half the score in full-throttle AC/DC mode. During “Confrontation,” the 11th hour duet with himself, Maroulis’ Jekyll is forced to sing along with a massive video of Hyde, the latter apparently drawing sonic inspiration from Regan’s most head-spinning moments in The Exorcist.
Beyond the ear-splitting histrionics, the show’s adaptors (J & H was “conceived for the stage” by Wildhorn and Steve Cuden) have taken the two-sided nature of the story to a simplistic extreme. The primary difference between Jekyll and Hyde is a pair of glasses and a ponytail. The characters have no depth, despite all the convulsive energy Maroulis puts into the role. The women have even less to work with. Neither the lusty Lucy nor the virginal Emma (Teal Hicks) do anything but react to the main man in their lives. And those reactions are eye-rollers, from Lucy’s post-smackdown sexytimes to Emma’s slavish devotion.
Between the typecast characters, the over-the-top design elements, and a musical repertoire that sounds like vocal damage unfolding in real time, this staging of Jekyll & Hyde is a pass.
Jekyll & Hyde plays March 12–24 at the Cadillac Palace Theater. Tickets are on sale for $33 to $95.
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