OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Broadway tour 'Jekyll & Hyde' two over-the-top

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-15T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Broadway tour 'Jekyll & Hyde' two over-the-topBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

It's expected there will be a certain fun and excessive quality to "Jekyll & Hyde," the new national tour of the stage musical starring "American Idol" star and Tony Award nominee Constantine Maroulis and singer Deborah Cox as a London forbidden love.

Since this is the story of solving human nature tendencies pulled between good versus evil, the subject lends itself to all or nothing moments for a cultish camp quality.

But there are problems to be solved with this production presented by Broadway In Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre for a two-week run March 12 to 24 before the production heads to New York and Broadway. And it's more than something that chugging a simple potion will cure.

Like characters of Dr. Jekyll and his fiendish alter ego Mr. Hyde, this is a stage story production that doesn't quite know which way to lean.

Is it dark humor mixed with rock musical moments?

Is it romance blended with suspense and thrill?

Is it a period set story with a dash of drama combined with songs of self discovery?

It certainly can't do all of the above, and neatly with seamless flow, in a just over a two-hour span.

Remember, it ran four years on Broadway from 1997 to 2001, and headed overseas for more dates.

But the efforts of creators Tony and Grammy Award nominee Frank Wildhorn and Oscar and Grammy winner Leslie Bricusse have morphed since introduced to audiences more than 15 years ago.

This latest incarnation is directed by Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun and still includes the original songs like "This is the Moment," "A New Life" and "Someone Like You." But each is belted like a blockbuster number with an uneven over-emphasizing that lacks needed depth.

The cast is now backed by a computer generated backdrop set that often distracts from the intended interaction of the actors and actresses.

Cox never seems quite peppery enough to be a rough "lady of the night" and Maroulis is not convincing in either of his dual title roles.

It also stars Teal Wicks, very wooden as Emma Carew, Dr. Jekyll's true love and Laird Mackintosh, who is passable as attorney pal John Utterson. Richard White leads the pack of the show less-developed characters, as he plays Sir Danvers Carew opposite David Benoit as cartoonish counterparts The Bishop and club owner Spider.

The musical is based on the acclaimed novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson, about a London doctor who accidentally unleashes his evil alternate personality in his quest to cure his father's mental illness.

"Jekyll & Hyde" features an odd and ill-fitting costume design by Tobin Ost, with some of the gowns and clothing choices not believable for the characters. The overwhelming lighting design is by Jeff Croiter, and equaled by the blaring sound design by Ken Travis and flash and splash projection design by Daniel Brodie.

It's in Chicago until March 24 and tickets are $33-$95.

FYI: (800) 775-2000 or BroadwayInChicago.com or JekyllandHydeMusical.com

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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