‘Jekyll’ plans tour, revamps Gotham ads

Production going for slicker, urban , youth-oriented focus

NEW YORK — About to celebrate “Jekyll & Hyde’s” first anniversary on Broadway, Pace Entertainment/Fox Theatrical execs are expected to announce on Sunday that a two-year North American tour of the musical is being mounted, and its old ad campaign is being dumped for one with a slicker, urban and youth-oriented focus.

“We want to compete with the ‘Rent’ and ‘Chicago’ field,” said Gary Gunas, the musical’s executive producer, “and play with the big boys.”

Gunas said the musical “shrugged off the New York audience” after receiving a less-than-favorable review in the New York Times, but now, having achieved success with suburban audiences, producers are making an effort to target and exploit that same urban audience, which traditionally makes up slightly more than half of all Broadway theatergoers.

The show’s appearance for the national tour — a 70-week trek that starts in Seattle in March 1999 — will be “austere,” in Gunas’ words, with minimalist Robin Phillips hired on as its designer. The tour will also take on a different general manager in Ken Gentry, who had managed the show before its arrival on Broadway. Manny Kladitis of Niko Prods. will remain in place as the New York G.M.

While “Jekyll” has been playing to 94.5% capacity at the Plymouth Theater on Broadway, its gross receipts last week totaled $450,383 of a possible $608,972 — 74% of the total possible take. At a total cost of $6.5 million, the Broadway production has not yet paid for itself, but should “in a few months,” Gunas said. The show is expected to gross $40 million on the national tour, though Pace execs declined to identify what percentage of that would be profit.

After two weeks in Seattle, “Jekyll” will move to Grand Rapids, Mich., Boston, Minneapolis, Dallas, Tulsa, Memphis, To-ronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles — all one-week engagements. A variety of other cities are being considered, with the tour scheduled to end in the summer of 2000.

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