This 2012 concept cast album of Jekyll & Hyde will definitely whet the appetites for fans of the show which returns to Broadway in 2013. This recording hits the highlights from the score, omitting all the large ensemble numbers and focusing on the trio (or quartet) of "Jekyll/Hyde," "Lucy," and "Emma," played by Constantine Maroulis, Deborah Cox, and Teal Wicks, respectively. While there are definite good points to this recording, die-hard fans may be disappointed in how it has been "re-imagined" as a 21st century Jekyll & Hyde.
The Cast & Vocals
Jekyll & Hyde consists of music by Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, with additional Lyrics by Steve Cuden and Wildhorn on a few songs. Orchestrations and Arrangements for this album are by Jason Howland.
For the most part, the new arrangements are very well-suited to the dark story, but the addition of some modern sampling distracts from the score fans know so well. Fans of the original concept cast album will be pleased to hear "Bring On the Men" has been resurrected. The song had been taken out of the original Broadway production due to time limits, though it became a concert standard for Linda Eder, the original "Lucy."
Constantine Maroulis is a lyric tenor and seems too light-weight to carry the fullness of the role at first. He brings his pop-rock sensibility to Wildhorn's score, a musical vocal style he perfected playing the lead in Broadway's Rock of Ages. Throughout the album, his accent changes from the story's British origins to American rock and then a confused mix of the two.
Maroulis brings trademark rock music grit and growl to "Alive," infusing a conviction to the transformation of "Dr. Jekyll" into "Mr. Hyde" audiences have grown to expect. The final "Confrontation" has become infamous for its demanding vocals and acting complexities. Maroulis' performance is remarkable in its intensity and commitment to the moment "Jekyll" chooses to end "Hyde's" reign of terror. How Maroulis will maintain this vocal intensity and characterization eight shows per week on Broadway -- and not lose his smooth, lyric quality, or his voice completely -- is yet to be seen.
Deborah Cox makes no attempt to perform with a British accent, bringing a definite American pop and R&B flavor to "Lucy" that is very different from the Streisand- and Garland-infused singing of Linda Eder. Cox seems most influenced by Whitney Houston, both in inflection and even some of Houston's vocal problems, including singing vocal fry, glottal stops, roughness in her mix range, and breathing on the bar, all heard on "No One Knows Who I Am" and others. From a character point of view, Cox never quite taps into the vulnerability of "Lucy," most evident on "A New Life," preferring instead to show off riffs and her personal style of singing than remain true to the character.
Teal Wicks, singing "Emma," brings a heavier, darker quality to the role than one expects from the ingenue of the story. There is little lyric or innocent quality to her singing, and she belts in the mix range rather than staying in head voice, offering no real vocal difference to Cox's "Lucy" in that regard. She is also prone to using vocal breaks to convey emotion which is, unfortunately, popular amongst modern recording artists.
The most glaring pitfall of re-imagining a musical cult-classic can be heard on "A Dangerous Game." This musical number attempts a sultry pop song make-over with sampled grooves but fails, morphing into a disco ballad, that changes personality again taking on a jungle/cannibals bongo-fest toward the end.
The orchestra, consisting of living, breathing musicians, is superb and renders Wildhorn's haunting score beautifully.
The Wrap Up
Broadway lovers who hate the pop-musicals of the last 30 years will not take to this concept album recording. Musical Theatre purists may be put off by the liberal use of samplers, mixers, and other non-live musician gimmicks that may be hard to reproduce for the stage.
If all the other albums of Jekyll & Hyde are in your collection, get this one because Maroulis alone is worth the price of the CD. It will be interesting to see what changes this re-imagined 21st century Jekyll & Hyde will undergo before it opens on Broadway in 2013. That cast album will be a must-have for certain. Until then, enjoy Maroulis sinking his teeth into the darkness of Wildhorn and Bricusse.
1. Lost in the Darkness- Constantine Maroulis
2. I Need to Know- Constantine Maroulis
3. Take Me As I Am- Constantine Maroulis and Teal Wicks
4. No One Knows Who I Am- Deborah Cox
5. Bring On the Men- Deborah Cox
6. This Is the Moment- Constantine Maroulis
7. Alive- Constantine Maroulis
8. His Work and Nothing More- Corey Brunish, Constantine Maroulis, Teal Wicks, and Tom Hewitt
9. Sympathy, Tenderness- Deborah Cox
10. Someone Like You- Deborah Cox
11. Once Upon a Dream- Teal Wicks
12. In His Eyes- Teal Wicks and Deborah Cox
13. Dangerous Game- Deborah Cox and Constantine Maroulis
14. Girls of the Night- Shannon Magrane, Deborah Cox, and Carly Robyn Green
15. The Way Back- Constantine Maroulis
16. A New Life- Deborah Cox
17. Confrontation- Constantine Maroulis
18. Once Upon a Dream (Reprise)- Constantine Maroulis