BUFFALO — Just in time for Halloween, Shea’s Performing Arts Center will play host to gothic literature legends, Dr. Henry Jekyll and the notorious Mr. Edward Hyde.
“Jekyll and Hyde the Musical” is on tap for a six-night run at the Buffalo theater, part of a 25-city national tour before the four-time Tony Award-nominated production hits the Broadway stage in April.
The musical is anchored by Tony Award nominee and “American Idol” alum Constantine Maroulis in the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Grammy Award nominee Deborah Cox as love interest Lucy.
Laird Mackintosh, who says his role as John Utterson acts as a voice of reason throughout the production, recently took time to talk to the News about his role, the musical and his thoughts on visiting Western New York.
QUESTION: Tell us a little about your role.
ANSWER: If you read the book, my character might be a little familiar. In the Robert Louis Stevenson novella, Utterson is the narator but in the musical, of course, the main character is our star Constantie Maroulis who plays Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the show I play his best friend and lawyer.
I think (Utterson’s) role in the show is to provide a voice of reason and also maybe to illustrate a side of Jekyll’s character that we wouldn’t otherwise see. You get to see that through his friendship with Utterson.
Q: What appealed to you about the role?
A: It was more of the show itself that appealed to me. I think anybody who’s in theater knows this incredible score that Frank Wildhorn wrote for the show and I think any opportunity to be involved in a production like this is something you welcome with open arms.
Q: What’s new about this version of the musical?
A: The show was on Broadway for four years and it’s been all over the world, but this is a completely new production. It’s not a revival, it’s a revisal. We’re excited to have new sets and new costumes ... the score and the book have all been revised and reworked. It’s exciting for us to bring a new edge to the show.
Q: How does the musical differ from the original novella?
A: The fundamental myth of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the launching point and our story has at its core the notion of duality and man’s struggle with his sense of having two selves. There’s quite a bit that’s different from the Stevenson story in our show.
There have been so many films and theatrical productions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it seems to be that the idea of duality is something that people can really relate to and it’s a great hook for a story.
We take the basic idea of the Stevenson story and we give it a lot of new twists. Of course we’re set in the late 1800s (like the original story) but we also have kind of steampunk feel to the new design of show, a sexy edge. I think it goes hand in hand with Frank Wildhorn’s music, which has always had an appeal to it.
Q: How have you made the character of Utterson your own?
A: I think as actors you have to just be honest and truthful and take yourselves in to account. Constantine is a young guy and so am I and so I think there is a kind of youthfulness to our relationship on stage which will give you a side of Dr. Jekyll and Utterson audiences haven’t seen before. You bring parts of yourself to the role and the performance and I think the things that stick are the things that just instinctively feel right to you.
Hopefully with that comes a real strong energy and a real drive in the show and vitality. The show itself has been trimmed down in the book and it’s a tight show.
Ultimately we’re doing this for the audience and we want them to be engaged.
Q: Is there a particular moment in the show that gives you a rush?
A: There’s a great scene I get to play with Constantine ... a great moment in the show where he has one of his transformations from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll. It’s a nice acting moment for me. He does all these transformations and they’re not done with makeup or masks or anything like that. Constantine plays the two different roles entirely through his acting. I have a great scene where I get to witness the transformation and it’s a real pleasure to play.
I pinch myself a lot of time as I’m backstage and as the show’s going on and as you hear those songs ... the score is just so good. A lot of fantastic music.
Q: How is “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the Musical” different than anything you’ve done before?
A: I would say it’s a little bit more of a pop or rock show than I’ve done before ... it’s fun for me to be involved. It’s a pretty cool production ... sexy, dark and dangerous.
Q: Are you looking forward to any site-seeing on your trip to Buffalo?
A: I played Shea’s with “Mary Poppins” so I know that it’s an absolutely beautiful theater. I can’t wait to be back. That’s one of the real treats on being on the road with these shows.
I think some people (in the production) were even talking about doing the falls and I think there’s some good outlet shopping too.
I’m looking forward to being back. We’re excited about bringing the show to a new audience.
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: "Jekyll and Hyde the Musical"
• WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday
• WHERE: Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St., Buffalo
• MORE INFO: Call 847-1410, or visit www.sheas.org.