The second show in the Pittsburgh CLO's milestone 65th season this June, following its recent presentation of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL, is the musical version of JEKYLL & HYDE. Conceived for the stage by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn, JEKYLL & HYDE is a take on the classic Robin Lewis Stevenson novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and delves deeply into a case study-like exploration of the "primitive duality" of man. The CLO production boasts Kevin Gray as the title character, as well as a talented supporting cast composed of Tim Hartman (A TALE OF TWO CITIES, FINIAN'S RAINBOW), Brynn O'Malley (SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, the Pittsburgh CLO's 2009 production of INTO THE WOODS), Elizabeth Stanley (MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, CRY-BABY), and George Dvorsky (THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, PASSION).
Robert Cuccioli, who will soon play Captain von Trapp in the CLO'S THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Pontius Pilate in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, directs the show that depicts a man so driven by his work that he ends up sacrificing his own body to his unique brand of experiments. When one trial in particular goes awry, his life is forever changed into a perpetual duel with the two personalities - one good, one murderously evil - that now inhabit his body.
With a soaring score by Frank Wildhorn (who penned the recent Broadway flop-and-a-half, WONDERLAND), JEKYLL & HYDE's music hits all the right notes, both literally and figuratively. The show contains the famous numbers "This Is the Moment" and "Once Upon a Dream," as well as the moving act two ballad performed with mysterious ardor by Dr. Jekyll's two lovers, Emma and Lucy: "In His Eyes."
Kevin Gray gives a clearly impassioned performance as the mystifying Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde, slipping feverishly between the two faces with which his own experiment has cursed him. (And rightfully so, as he played the same role in the 2002 CLO production.) But the title of the evening's true standout indubitably belongs to Elizabeth Stanley (fresh off an off-Broadway run of the Transport Group's intriguing HELLO AGAIN and noted for her role as April in the Tony-Award winning 2006 revival of COMPANY), making her Pittsburgh CLO debut as Dr. Jekyll's free-wheeling lover, Lucy. Ms. Stanley wows the audience with incredible pipes - and incredible acting chops, to boot - with solo numbers that, luckily for the audience, span across both acts and allow her to show off a multi-faceted range of emotions.
Technically, the show is a mixed bag: abrupt, colorful lighting cues give certain moments a clichéd, juvenile feel, while the intermittent sound issues that occurred throughout the evening can probably be chalked up to simple opening night technicalities. However, the production does make attention-grabbing use of strobe lights and pyrotechnics through torches lit with real fire - as well as a truly "explosive" ending to the show's first act.
Pittsburgh CLO's JEKYLL & HYDE runs through June 26th at the Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh's Cultural District. Tickets start at $26.75 and are available online at pittsburghCLO.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square. Special discounts and packages are available for groups; groups of 10 or more may call 412-325-1582.