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Editor's Note: As part of CultureMap's State of the Arts series, we are highlighting upcoming fall arts events you won't want to miss.
It’s that classic love story. You know the one. Boy meets proper Victorian girl. Then, boy meets kindly prostitute. Boy is actually mad scientist working on a secret formula for separating men into good and evil halves. Boy develops pesky split personality disorder. Bizarre love quadrilateral forms. Everybody sings about it.
That’s right Jekyll & Hyde that literal monster musical, that first took its transmuting potion at the Alley Theatre over twenty years ago, is lumbering back home October 9th for the Theatre Under the Stars fall season, a national tour, and then a limited engagement run on Broadway.
First conceived in 1990 by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Wildhorn, Jekyll & Hyde possessed many of the elements of the great 1980s and 90s British blockbuster musicals: a story based on a beloved literary work (preferably in the public domain), a down on her luck prostitute or ingenue, one or two songs that could easily crossover to the pop charts, and a depressing ending but dramatic death number. But unlike some other of those big musicals of the era, there was a bit of lingering doubt as to whether Jekyll & Hyde wanted us to take it completely serious. And that’s what made it fun.
Long after Jekyll & Hyde’s first Broadway run ended, several of its songs became staples at beauty pageants and ice skating competitions. Of the countless singers who covered the tunes perhaps most notable are Liza Minnelli’s interpretation of “A New Life,” Lucy’s power ballad plea for better prostitute retirement plans, and Donny Osmond’s stirring rendition of “This Is the Moment,” Jekyll’s ode to the joys of recklessly testing mad scientific formulas on oneself.
So what’s new with this fourth national tour? The revival will be directed by Jeff Calhoun, who was nominated for 2012 Tony for the surprise Broadway hit Newsies.
The characters of Jekyll and Hyde will be played by former American Idol finalist and Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis. Maroulis should be quite comfortable playing a the Victorian version of a science nerd and his monstrous alter ego since his last theatrical visit to Houston was playing mild-mannered earth scientist Melvin Ferd and his assertive personality, the Toxic Avenger at the Alley.
Prostitute Lucy with a heart and voice of gold will be played by Grammy nominated dance diva Deborah Cox, who also played the lead role in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Broadway musical, Aida.
Promotional videos for the coming tour show Maroulis and Cox with both matching brooding stares and luxurious flowing hair. So really, only Osmond and Minnelli might have made a better pairing.
Whether you’re ready to plunge into a Broadway spectacle on the nature of good and evil or are looking to ironically enjoy what is essentially a musical musing on Victorian England’s lack of good mental health care, save the date for Jekyll & Hyde.