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'Jekyll & Hyde': The good, the bad and the musical

David Yudell stars in the dual title roles

David Yudell stars in the dual title roles of "Jekyll & Hyde," the musical, opening at the Maguire Theater, SUNY Old Westbury, (Nov. 4, 2010) Photo Credit: DDB Productions

At the root of "Jekyll & Hyde," the musical, is a love quadrangle. But in the current show that revives theater at SUNY Old Westbury's Maguire Theater, it's more like a triangle.

Long Island-based DDB Productions ambitiously stages the Broadway cult hit, betting that the Frank Wildhorn-Leslie Bricusse musical still has legs. Besides the current three-week run, three more weeks are scheduled for the dead of winter.

Most impressive - even more than rented elements of the original Broadway set - is Karen Yelaney's lush 12-piece orchestra. The yearning, angst and bombast of Wildhorn's overblown score demand the full brass, reeds, strings and percussive treatment. It's a rare treat on the Island, where small ensembles or recorded scores accompany most musicals these days.

"Jekyll & Hyde" also gets full-throated treatment thanks to Allison Rerecich as Jekyll's fiancee and Emily Nadler as Lucy, the prostitute known both to Jekyll and his experimental alter ego, Hyde. David Yudell of Off-Broadway's "Godiva Was No Lady" strives for a dichotomy of vocal ranges as the dual (and dueling) title characters. While he hits all the high notes as good Dr. Jekyll, he doesn't always hold them. As evil Mr. Hyde, he growls and spits out the notes.

With his wild-eyed look as Jekyll, Yudell never convincingly distinguishes the tragic hero from his doppelgänger villain. Perhaps that's why director-choreographer Jon Grodeski alternately illuminates Jekyll and leaves Hyde in the dark in the climactic "Confrontation."

Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, of course, revolves around Dr. Henry Jekyll's quest to concoct an elixir to defeat humankind's evil impulses. After his entreaties for a homo-sapien guinea pig are turned down, he experiments on himself in his lab. The result is an uncontrolled emergence of Edward Hyde, who proceeds to murder those who opposed Jekyll.

Anthony Edelman as Jekyll's counsel and friend and Richard Allman as his prospective father-in-law credibly carry the musical's expository burden. Rerecich, with her sweet and steady soprano, gives us reason to feel badly for Jekyll's torment. Meanwhile, Nadler rattles the rafters - hopefully in "Sympathy, Tenderness" and raucously in "Bring on the Men."

DDB's brave, blustery and at times poignant "Jekyll & Hyde" will please the musical's can't-get-enough fans. I'd prefer an ounce of nuance.

"Jekyll & Hyde," book and lyrics, Leslie Bricusse; music, Frank Wildhorn

When | Where: Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 and 20 at 8 p.m., Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. (Cohen Children's Center benefit), Sunday and Nov. 21 at 3 p.m., also Feb. 3 to 20, at Maguire Theater, SUNY Old Westbury, Route 107 north of the LIE

Info: $35 to $45, $90 with dinner at Rothmann's, $150 VIP benefit seating; jekyllandhydelongisland.com, 866-811-4111

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