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Dr Henry Jekyll is a brilliant scientist who has a strange connection with a certain notorious Edward Hyde. Hyde’s physical deformation and general cruel demeanour is in stark contrast to the placid and pleasant Jekyll so a connection between the two would seem improbable. The connection is that Jekyll has stumbled into knowledge which is dangerous and detrimental to his as he perfects a serum which metamorphosis him into Hyde. When Hyde goes on a rampage of violence it is not long before he comes to the attention of the authorities...
Jekyll and Hyde: 2012 Concept Recording is another in a long list of recordings of a show whose original concept was the brainchild of Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn. The show music was written by Wildhorn, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Although the original show had a substantial run it ended up making a loss. Since that time a number of recordings have been released with various numbers added and removed, it is therefore difficult to say what a definitive version of the show would be.
Not even Wildhorn, who was involved in this project would be able to say, as the show and its songs have evolved over a couple of decades. This is not a cast performance as such, the history of the concept recording dates back to Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had originally released both Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita as concept recordings to test the audiences desire to see the actual shows.
The album was recorded in July 2012 and was produced by Wildhorn and comes with a booklet, or PDF if you buy the digital version, which has behind the scenes shots of the cast. If you like the album, the show is currently touring the States.
Both the album and the forthcoming Broadway revival star Constantine Maroulis (Jekyll), Deborah Cox (Lucy) Corey Brunish (Utterson), Sharron Magrane (Nellie) and Teal Wicks (Emma). With new arrangements on some of the songs and a new orchestration, this may upset a few Jekyll purists, but as a concept, rather than a recording of the show the album should be taken on its own merits.
The general tone of the music is '80s/'90s with the liberal use of synthesisers and drums which gives many of the numbers a rock edge.
The album opens with 'Lost in the Darkness' (Constantine Maroulis) (2 min, 43 sec), a melancholy number and a very soft introduction to the story. 'I Need to Know' (Constantine Maroulis) (2 min, 49 sec) is the first progressive rock arrangement, full of sawing violins more reminiscent of a James Bond theme song than a Broadway show. 'Take Me As I Am' (Constantine Maroulis & Teal Wicks) (3 min, 14 sec) and we have our first romantic duet. Maroulis has very understated vocals which sometimes lack the tonality required of some of the songs, Wicks however has a beautiful voice which lends itself, naturally, to storytelling.
'No One Knows Who I Am' (Deborah Cox) (3 min, 27 sec) over the picking of a Spanish guitar Cox sings a soft lullaby of loss, This sort of song seems to be compulsory in Broadway shows, at some point someone will sing about who they are, not really sure why, but every show appears to have a similar song. 'Bring On the Men' (Deborah Cox) (3 min, 45 sec) and were away from the land of Spanish guitars to a slow swing number, with lilting violins, a melancholy clarinet as Cox sings a respectably good bar floozy song, which picks up the tempo half way through as if to reflect her forced jollity.
'This Is the Moment' (Constantine Maroulis) (3 min, 41 sec) has an opening which builds and builds before it breaks on the music shore to transform into a restrained song of jubilation and fruition, before building once again to the songs crescendo. 'Alive' (Constantine Maroulis) (3 min, 28 sec) and finally Hyde makes his entrance with a sub Rocky Horror Picture Show number. I can’t help feeling, having,vocally presented Jekyll in softer tones, that Maroulis didn’t go more over the top with his Hyde.
'His Work and Nothing More' (Corey Brunish, Constantine Maroulis, Teal Wicks & Tom Hewitt) (3 min, 35 sec) and the main characters discuss Jekyll’s obsession with his work. It’s a good filler song with some nice harmonies between the main cast. 'Sympathy, Tenderness' (Deborah Cox) (1 min, 45 sec) is a short song of longing from Cox suitably played with just her vocal and piano accompaniment, a short love song to Jekyll. 'Someone Like You' (Deborah Cox) (4 min, 01 sec) is another love song though this is one of unrequited love; overall it’s a very tender song, probably the best one on the recording.
'Once Upon a Dream' (Teal Wicks) (2 min, 43 sec) and it’s another love song, well this is not only about Jekyll, but also Emma’s love for him regardless of his decent into madness and destruction. 'In His Eyes' (Teal Wicks & Deborah Cox) (4 min) and we have yet another love song, this time a duet between the two woman who love him, indeed, wasn’t he good wasn’t he fine. Joking apart the concept album and the show has some really high quality love songs, Cox and Wicks get the better deal when it comes to the quality of the songs.
'Dangerous Game' (Deborah Cox & Constantine Maroulis) (5 min, 04 sec) and Lucy is tempted by the forbidden pleasures offered by Hyde in a soft rock moment. 'Girls of the Night' (Shannon Magrane, Deborah Cox & Carly Robyn Green) (4 min, 49 sec) and once again the girls get a lush, rich song for their own, a sad song from the point of view of women of the night.
'The Way Back' (Constantine Maroulis) (2 min, 49 sec) and Jekyll finally starts to loose control of Hyde in this rock extravagance. It’s a shame that the more rock orientated - and, by consequence, much of Maroulis’s songs - are the ones that feel like they have dated the most. Although progressive in terms of Broadway musicals, the actual music still follows behind contemporary music by about twenty years. Though the songs themselves are, for the most part slightly older than this, it still does not excuse the arrangements.
In 'A New Life' (Deborah Cox) (4 min, 31 sec) wishes for another reason to hope for the future and as an idea its another Broadway standard of the character meditating on the possibility of a new life. Still it’s another wonderful performance by Cox which builds in power allowing her to really stretch her vocal range.
'Confrontation' (Constantine Maroulis) (4 min, 33 sec) and Jekyll comes to the end of his trite gothic morality tale. 'Once Upon a Dream (Reprise)' (Constantine Maroulis) (1 min, 05 sec) Jekyll contemplates his own hubris at trying to change the basic nature of man.
Overall this is a very well-produced album, Cox and Wicks are the undoubted vocal stars of the show, with Maroulis holding himself too far back when singing Hyde. The love songs and their arrangements could have been written yesterday and not twenty-five years ago, although the rockier numbers throw the show back a couple of decades. Still, with a number of highlights from the girls this is still an album worth checking out.