The entrance into the Durham Performing Arts Center is a spectacle in itself. Ticket-takers in top hats, the tuxedos, the red carpet, the relentless smiling and help from all members of the staff — it’s hard not to feel like you’re already in the show just as you enter the lobby.
There’s a reason why this place is so renowned. The vibe in the lobby screams high class but it still can’t escape the southern warmth and charm that permeates Durham. Resulting is an atmosphere that’s hard to find outside of Manhattan — elegant, refined but still comforting.
With that said, any semblance of a delicate atmosphere is shattered with a vengeance the moment Jekyll & Hyde opens its curtain. Teal Wicks recently told WCHL, “It’s like a rock show.” And she wasn’t kidding. The opening is something out of a Black Sabbath concert, with an electric guitar riff that’s as heavy as it is dark.
On top of the Ozzy Osbourne-inspired metal, Jekyll’s “journal” of his experiments is scrawled out on the stage throughout the show as shadows and whispers invoke a Jack-the-Ripper-like setting. Dr. Jekyll’s educated and quaint voice-over of his thoughts foreshadows the conflict before the audience: the quiet, dark mystery of the night protecting the anything but quiet evil within.
While Stevenson’s novel from which the musical is based has been called predictable, the performances of the show’s stars (Constantine Maroulis as Jekyll, Deborah Cox as Lucy Harris, and Teal Wicks as Emma Carew) would make anything dynamic and exciting.
Maroulis’ grip on his character is uncanny. Early in the production it’s almost as though he still hasn’t figured out exactly how to handle it, and while that might sound bad, it’s exactly what Jekyll is dealing with as well — with the voice of the refined doctor always on the cusp of erupting.
Wicks plays Carew to perfection: delicate and beautiful. The audience worries about her as she seems to need protection.
One would think Cox’s character, the destitute prostitute Harris, would need to be protected considering her status but her personality is too strong. Cox’s voice has been described as raw and powerful (all true), but that sells her talent short. She’s simply stunning on stage. Her solos are electric, so much so that the air seems to go out of the theater whenever she leaves the stage, only to rush back in as soon as she returns.
The climax scene between Jekyll and Hyde is just phenomenal. It’s edgy, it’s loud, and while the producers ran the risk of coming across cheesy, they absolutely nailed it. The stage props and production is simply top notch and it’s no surprise this group headed to Broadway. Shows at DPAC are only running through Sunday so be sure to catch it while you can!
Jekyll & Hyde runs from January 8th through the 13th at the Durham Performing Arts Center, tickets/info can be found here.
You can follow The Durham Performing Arts Center on Twitter @DPAC.