‘Jekyll’ Juggles B’way Stand

Veteran lyricist/librettist Leslie Bricusse could well end up launching the fall season on Broadway with one musical about multiple personalities – and ending it with another.

Already slated for an October opening is “Victor/Victoria,” the stage version of the 1982 Blake Edwards movie that will mark diva Julie Andrews’ return to Broadway after more than three decades. On that project, Bricusse teamed with the late composer Henry Mancini and Edwards – a triple threat as director, author and producer.

Now comes “Jekyll and Hyde,” a long-aborning tuner based on the Robert Louis Stevenson tale, set in Victorian England and given a romantic, pop-synth twist. For this show, Bricusse wrote the book and lyrics, to music by Frank Wildhorn.

“Jekyll and Hyde” had a sell-out debut in June 1990 at Houston’s Alley Theater, but a consortium of producers failed to mount a tour or Broadway stand. It was then taken over by the Alley (whose artistic director, Gregory Boyd, is helming the show) and Frank Young, who runs Houston’s Theater Under the Stars and the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle. A much-expanded version recently played Houston’s 3,000-seat Music Hall, and it’s now in Seattle, closing March 19.

In Houston, the reworked show got strong notices. But Seattle critics were un-persuaded, with the Seattle Times’ Misha Berson calling the show a “prefab pop extravaganza.” Nevertheless, the show has sold very well there, and Linda Eder, playing the love interest, has won raves everywhere.

With Pace Theatricals – the Broadway arm of Houston-based Pace, which has had a hand in “Tommy” and “Grease” – executive producing and supervising, the show will begin a nine-month tour in August. If all goes well, the show could bow on Broadway in April ’96, making for the most schizophrenic Tony Awards ever: “Victor/Victoria” vs. “Jekyll and Hyde.”

But Zeiger cautioned that the show might bypass New York and continue a lucrative tour, forgoing the rewards – and risks – of Broadway.

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