'Jekyll & Hyde' has many faces
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer
Enter stage left, "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical."
Conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, "Jekyll" is adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic 1886 novella, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Packed with surprisingly engaging Gothic music and lyrics, "Jekyll" recounts young research scientist Dr. Henry Jekyll's lifelong quest to separate the natures of man: good and evil. Using himself as a guinea pig in a fit of desperation, Jekyll unleashes alter ego Edward Hyde, who begins skulking about 19th-century London, murdering Jekyll's ridiculers.
The musical garnered good word of mouth upon opening in Houston in 1990, with music luminaries like Liza Minnelli and The Moody Blues eventually placing "Jekyll" tunes on their albums. The musical finally made its Broadway debut on April 28, 1997, to mixed critical response, but rapturous and radbid fan following.
Attracting steady media attention by regularly casting disparate but showy leads like Hasselhoff, Bach and Wagner, "Jekyll" ran on Broadway for four years, closing on Jan. 7, 2001.
Diamond Head Theatre artistic director John Rampage obtained the rights immediately, enlisting Hawai'i-born Broadway vet Jade Stice ("Miss Saigon") for her first directing gig.
A 10-year New Yorker, Stice was in town rehearsing for the lead role of Florence in DHT's February "Chess" production. Though she was familiar enough with the musicalhaving worked as an ensemble player and choreographer and director's assistant on two national "Jekyll" tours last fallshe was still nervous.
"I thought about it a couple of days because this is kind of scary," Stice said. "I thought, 'What if I fail? What if I suck?' But it was a great opportunity. Something that I knew I could do."
Stice returned to Honolulu in July and immediately began casting and prep work. Familiar with both sides of the stage, she made her production a collaborative one, inviting her leads to explore the dimensions and nuances of their characters outside of the musical's 19th-century confines.
"What's on stage now is really the result of ideas we worked out together," Stice said happily. "I had no expectations and never knew from day to day what was going to happen."