When audiences attend "Jekyll & Hyde" at the Kennedy Center this week, they'll find the familiar structure and substance of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella about a respected scientist, Henry Jekyll, whose experiments unleash his evil self, Edward Hyde. And they will hear the music by Frank Wildhorn and the lyrics by two-time Oscar winner and Emmy winner Leslie Bricusse that entranced audiences for four years on Broadway and on multiple world tours.
But this is "Jekyll & Hyde" with a difference. The new production is conceived for the stage by Wildhorn and Steve Cuden. It has been reorchestrated for the vocal ranges of two of its stars, Tony Award nominee Constantine Maroulis and Grammy nominee Deborah Cox. And director Jeff Calhoun's vision has turned it into a Victorian tale for 2012.
"The central myth of the Jekyll/Hyde character, which is the theme of man's duality, is something people do really feel and grapple with in their lives," said Laird Mackintosh, who plays Gabriel John Utterson, Jekyll's loyal friend. "It's something we're aware of internally. That theme is what hooks everybody in the audience.
"And then on top of that we have really wonderful music. I was familiar with some of these songs before I even knew who Frank Wildhorn was. 'This is the Moment' is something I've grown up with and sung for years and years. It's one of my mum's favorite songs.
|'Jekyll & Hyde'|
|» Where: Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW|
|» When: Tuesday through Sunday|
|» Info: $25 to $115; 202-467-4600; kennedy-center.org|
"It's a fantastic score, which we have given something of a contemporary rock feel. It's a combination of really beautiful lyrical melodies and hard-driving rhythms, in keeping with Jeff's desire to make this production really appeal to today's audiences."
In the original Stevenson story, Utterson was an essential element in discovering the identity of Hyde. In this production, he is key to revealing more about Jekyll's personality.
"My role is to highlight something about Jekyll's character that you wouldn't see if my character wasn't in the show. The audience gets to see, through our relationship, what a good person Jekyll is. If you took out my scenes, Jekyll's true nature wouldn't be illustrated as well. My character creates sympathy for his character."
D.C. is the seventh city where "Jekyll and Hyde" is performing before it arrives on Broadway.
"Touring is a real privilege," said Mackintosh. "We're going to love being in Washington, because it has such a knowledgeable theater audience and because the Kennedy Center just has such a mystique for actors."