Entertainment :: Theatre

Jekyll & Hyde

by Rachel  Breitman
Contributor
Saturday Nov 24, 2012
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The cast of ’Jekyll & Hyde’
The cast of ’Jekyll & Hyde’  (Source:Chris Bennion)

For an actor to play multiple roles in a single musical requires an enormous range. To play the gentle but tormented Dr. Henry Jekyll, and his murderous alter ego, Mr. Edward Hyde, in the Kennedy Center’s "Jekyll and Hyde," Constantine Maroulis comes up short in vocal and acting skills. This reimagination of the 1990 play composed by Frank Wildhorn, is energetic, romantic and modern, but suffers from the limited range of its leads.

The show boasts a cast full of pop music stars, with Maroulis, an "American Idol" star, and Deborah Cox, a Grammy-nominated R&B singer. But neither of them quite have a voice with the theatrical style to fill the stage and theater. Maroulis, who has performed previously on Broadway in "Rock of Ages," succeeds as the darker Mr. Hyde, but fails as the more subtle and proper Dr. Jekyll.

Maroulis tries to compensate for his weak vocal range with vocal riffs and hair flops, but still comes up short as the title characters, two opposite men who happen to share the same body.

Maroulis, who has performed previously on Broadway in "Rock of Ages," succeeds as the darker Mr. Hyde, but fails as the more subtle and proper Dr. Jekyll.

As his showgirl paramour, Cox is sassy and sexy, but can’t quite hold her own onstage. In their duet "Dangerous Game," Maroulis and Cox make up for their lack of vocal power with extra seductive dancing, creating images both steamy and darkly sadistic.

The show gains some ground back through the performances of supporting cast members. Teal Wicks, who plays Jekyll’s fiancée, has strong enough lungs to upstage Cox in their duet "In His Eyes" and Maroulis in their duet "Take Me As I Am." The ensemble provides strong support where the key players are weak, and their musical and dance routines, particularly to "Murder" in Act II, are strong and rich.

The play has a sharp and sexy look to it, with the prim Victorian London backdrop by Daniel Brodie and daring showgirl costumes by Tobin Ost.

The play also includes more modern visual elements, like multimedia tapestries complete with digital images. The show uses animation to show Hyde’s outlandish dark side. If only the leads were stronger, all the visual bells and whistles might not be necessary.

"Jekyll and Hyde" runs through Nov. 25 at The Kennedy Center Opera House, 2700 F St. NW in Washington, D.C. For tickets or info, call 202-467-4600 or go to www.kennedy-center.org/

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