Literature and film have enjoyed considerable success with tales of people who have been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, or, as it's known today, dissociative identity disorder. Think of “Frankenstein,” “The Three Faces of Eve” and “Sibyl.”
Rivaling all of these tales is Robert Louis Stevenson's “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” an 1886 novella about a London physician whose transformation into a sinister alter ego has dramatic consequences.
Stevenson's novella, which explored the idea of separating good from evil, provided the inspiration for countless stage and film adaptations, including the 1997 Broadway musical titled simply “Jekyll & Hyde.”
Featuring music by Frank Wildhorn with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, “Jekyll & Hyde” ran for nearly four years on Broadway and has frequently been produced in stock and regional theater.
A new national touring production of “Jekyll & Hyde” featuring “American Idol” star Constantine Maroulis and Grammy Award nominee Deborah Cox comes to Oklahoma City this week for eight performances at the Civic Center Music Hall.
Maroulis, who made it to the finals in season four of “American Idol,” was cast as Drew Dillenbeck in the 2009 Broadway musical “Rock of Ages.” A musical theater graduate of the Boston Conservatory, Maroulis has also appeared in productions of “Rent,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Jacques Brel” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
“I think a lot of people have come to know me from television but I grew up as an actor and I've been blessed to tackle some great (musical theater) roles,” Maroulis said recently. “I feel like everything I've done has led to this moment.”
Despite its lengthy Broadway run, “Jekyll & Hyde” had a difficult period of development that resulted in numerous incarnations over a seven-year span. Wildhorn's success as a pop music writer (Whitney Houston's “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”) didn't prepare him for the rigors of the musical theater, particularly when it came to composing songs that advance plot or provide character development.
And yet, “Someone Like You,” “This Is The Moment” and “Once Upon A Dream” have all enjoyed life outside of the stage production, the first two often chosen by competitors at national beauty pageants.
One could write a dissertation outlining the numerous versions of “Jekyll & Hyde.” Not surprisingly, this touring production differs both in subtle and obvious ways from its many predecessors. It's a perfect example of the famous quote that says musicals are not written, but rather rewritten.
“I wasn't as familiar with ‘Jekyll & Hyde' in drama school as much as some of my classmates were so I don't know in great detail about all of the history of the show,” Maroulis said. “I sort of chose to discover it all on my own.
“The really great part of this journey is that it's been a collaborative effort with Frank and his willingness to let the Tony-nominated director Jeff Calhoun go in and do a lot of work on this show. We've discovered there are many ways to interpret even a modern work like this.”
While musicals such as “Rent” and “Rock of Ages” stretch an actor's talents, “Jekyll & Hyde” asks the performer cast in the title roles to do double duty. Maroulis spends much of the evening making the switch between the well-educated doctor and the morally deficient murderer. It's a grueling task that is physically and emotionally exhausting.
“Physically, this part is just a monster,” Maroulis said. “My body, my voice and my emotions are constantly being taxed but I wouldn't trade anything for it. I obsess over the show and I love the challenge of going out there every night.”