JEKYLL & HYDE, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. If you wanted to see one show that exemplified everything that’s wrong with the contemporary Broadway musical, Jekyll & Hyde would fill the bill. Overblown, shallow, and utterly undramatic, with annoying pop tunes by Frank Wildhorn and bland, forgettable lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, this show makes Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic horror tale boring.
Of course we all know the story, thanks to hundreds of movies and parodies. But Bricusse and Wildhorn seem to assume we’ve never heard it before and, like a bore buttonholing us at a party, insist on telling it all again, throwing in plenty of long, utterly heartless songs of the sort Whitney Houston and Celine Dion get mocked for singing.
Why this show was a Broadway hit is a mystery, though it may have something to do with the fact that Linda Eder, who has a cult following, starred in its initial run. She’s not in this touring version, which looks a little the worse for wear, with dance sequences that seem a bit off and at least two onstage murders so sloppily performed I thought they were being played for laughs. (There’s one terrific performer, Sharon Brown, who blows the roof off the theater every time she sings.) Fans of the unintentionally campy TV commercial for Zyban, with its memorable list of side-effect warnings, will relish the chance to see its deep-voiced spokesmodel, Chuck Wagner, as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.