There's a lot to like about the new Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde at the Marquis Theatre. The singing at times is top notch, led by Grammy winner Deborah Cox, Teal Wicks, and an ensemble cast that makes lead Constantine Maroulis have to race to keep up. The main attraction here, though, is the set and the costumes that showcase the two sides to London, the upper-class royalty and the "other" class of frailty. Director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun is in a way the star of this show with how he staged the whole thing, with designer Tobin Ost a valuable asset to help give the show some much-needed legs.
But Maroulis's take on the Jekyll story, a doctor's transformation into something else, doesn't quite live up to the assignment. In that way, the intended purpose is flipped -- the scenery is designed to echo the storyline, but because it's so beautiful and dynamic and attractive, the details of the story fail to live up to those heights. In fact, you leave still unclear about why Jekyll is doing his experiment in the first place or what he hopes to gain from seeing himself as the Mr. Hyde character. For a play that takes itself so seriously, it leaves a lot of important questions unanswered.
For her role as the multi-faceted vixen, Cox shines in the spotlight, particularly in her introductory song, "Bring on the Men." The elaborate set and dance routine in that scene is something to be seen; it'll alter the way you see spiders and their webs, for one. Later on, the most striking song comes not from a duet involving Maroulis, but the two leading ladies, Cox and Wicks for "In His Eyes." The two are battling for Jekyll's affection, and unknowingly losing the fight for his soul as well.
It's a wonder this dark book was ever turned into a musical in the first place. The cast and crew does their absolute best with the material to make it come alive and resonate with a modern audience. Still, there's still something missing from the play that can't be made up with any amount of theatrics.
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