A Haunted House, With Music : JEKYLL & HYDE

Constantine Maroulis (Edward Hyde) with William Mulligan (The Bishop of Basingstoke). Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Directed By Robert Cuccioli
Music Direction By Milton Granger
Choreographed By Kelli Barclay
Book And Lyrics By Leslie Bricusse
Music By Frank Wildhorn
Originally Conceived By Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn

September 25 – October 7, 2018
Beverly, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) As I was attempting to become a fiction writer, I thought I had found a clear path to getting published by watching the Lifetime Channel in November and December. The channel was chock full of terrible movies, all about some aspect of Christmas. It occurred to me that while you had to sell your soul to get a $10 check from a literary journal, surely they had to pay someone to write this shlock, and there was always demand for it.

One should keep this perspective in mind when watching or reviewing the musical Jekyll & Hyde at North Shore Music Theatre. It’s not ART, but it does serve a seasonal purpose, and the crowd I was in seemed to appreciate the staged creepiness despite the play’s obvious shortcomings.   

For those who don’t know the story, let’s just say it’s like if Bruce Banner could become the Incredible Hulk whenever he felt like it. Constantine Maroulis plays Dr. Jekyll, a humanist, self-righteous jerk who gets so annoyed at religious self-righteous jerks that he decides to try to inject himself with a formula to rid himself of evil. Instead, he just unleashes his evil side, Mr. Hyde (also played by Maroulis, sans his ponytail). He keeps doing it, and bad things happen.

This production does a modestly good job as a haunted house feature, with good effects, creepy action, and nice lighting to veil the stage in shadows. Also, Maroulis has the pipes to blow the roof down, and he effectively uses his voice to set the Halloween mood in a Ronnie James Dio 80’s metal sort of way.

But take away the creepiness, and this play at times becomes a confusing and unfocused mess. There are too many instances when crowds of actors mill around, with little to do on stage. The musical score also feels unnecessarily busy, and unfortunately Maroulis’ supporting cast at times seemed to struggle because of it. On the night I attended, I heard enough missed notes to wonder if there was a flu bug going around the cast.

The fuzzy presentation of this story allowed my mind to wander about the hidden layers one could illuminate with this classic tale. For one, it is tragic to think that the scientist spends his years working on a futile attempt to isolate and subjugate personal evil, completely unaware that his idea of “evil” was shaped by the religious perspective which he scorned. Also, it was impossible to overlook the #Metoo implications of this story, as Dr. Jekyll professed love for one woman while, as Dr. Hyde, abusing another. It’s almost enough to make one believe that a revered man like a federal judge could also be someone capable of attempted rape when alcohol causes the mask of respectability to slip.

But we need not think too hard with Jekyll and Hyde. Look, the scientist is turning evil and going to do bad things! Creepy!

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