Dr. Henry Jekyll/
Edward Hyde ….. Chuck Wagner
Lucy ….. Sharon Brown
Emma Carew ….. Andrea Rivette
John Utterson ….. James Clow
The Spider ….. Geoffrey Blaisdell
Lady Beaconsfield ….. Tanny McDonald
Sir Danvers Carew ….. Dennis Kelly
With: Brian Noonan, Steven Bogard, Roger E. DeWitt, Candice Donehoo, David Elledge, Felicia Finley, Julie Foldesi, Dave Hugo, David Koch, Robert Krahen, Deb Lyons, Michael L. Marra, Kelli O’Hara, Karyn Overstreet, Max Perlman, Judine Richard, Christopher Yates.
Musical numbers: “Lost in the Darkness,” “I Need to Know,” “Facade,” “Board of Governors,” “Pursue the Truth,” “The Engagement Party,” “Take Me As I Am,” “Letting Go,” “Bring On the Men,” “This Is the Moment,” “The Transformation,” “Alive,” “His Work and Nothing More,” “Sympathy, Tenderness,” “Someone Like You, ” “Alive” (reprise),” “Murder, Murder,” “Once Upon a Dream,” “Streak of Madness, ” “In His Eyes,” “Dangerous Game,” “Facade” (reprise), “The Way Back,” “A New Life,” “Sympathy, Tenderness” (reprise), “Confrontation,” “Facade” (reprise), “Final Transformation.”
Jekkies across the hinterlands will love this latest traveling version of Frank Wildhorn’s ever-morphing vehicle. The last time most road markets saw “Jekyll & Hyde,” the critically maligned tuner was in its awful pre-Broadway, pre-Robin Phillips staging. Almost anything would be an improvement on that, but this retooled and also slightly rewritten production is also better than the current Broadway staging.
This populist show will never be a subtle or artful affair. But the new creative team of director David Warren and choreographer Jerry Mitchell have trimmed the more egregious theatrical hyperbole and chosen a lean, fast-moving and melodramatic style that matches the material very well.
The tight and lively show features the restoration of two songs, “I Need to Know” and “Bring on the Men,” that were cut for the Broadway production. The first of these helps strengthen the narrative early in the first act (and it needs all the help it can get), while “Bring on the Men” is a juicy and erotic little production number sung by Lucy and her fellow hookers in the Red Rat. Since Wildhorn is hardly averse to post-opening revisions, he should nix the inferior “Good and Evil” and throw in “Bring on the Men” on Broadway.
The most obvious improvement over previous productions is Mitchell’s choreography. Mitchell’s new movement draws less attention to itself and seems to flow more organically from the material. Most of the original tackiness has been banished in favor of some sexy silhouettes that work well.
That’s also true of Warren’s directing, which is generally less stilted and more truthful than the work of his predecessors. Even the special effects work better — there’s an especially cool piece of Vegas-style pyro that closes the first act.
Designer James Noone has truncated his Broadway set for the road, relying more on backdrops and two-dimensional effects. His big set pieces are, frankly, not much missed, and the lack of such a stultifying design lightens the show and keeps things more fluid.
Chuck Wagner was the original Jekyll at the Alley Theater, so his presence here should provide some box office heft. He’s a tad stiff at first, but his huge physical presence and booming voice ensure that both Jekyll and Hyde have weight and heft.
But Sharon Brown’s Lucy steals the show. Instead of emulating an evening at Rainbow and Stars with ballads like “Someone Like You,” Brown gives Wildhorn’s easy listening numbers an emotional center and some much-needed dramatic truth. At once strong and vulnerable, Brown’s performance alone makes this show worth seeing.
The sweet-voiced Andrea Rivette as Emma Carew leads a strong supporting cast. And with interest in this title remaining strong on the road, box office prospects look excellent.