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Speaking With.... Constantine Maroulis 03.15.13

Constantine Maroulis stars dual role title characters 'Jekyll   Hyde: The Musical' running through March 24 2013 Cadillac Palace

Constantine Maroulis stars in the dual role of the title characters in "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical" running through March 24, 2013, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. | Provided photo

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Jekyll & hyde

◆ Through March 24

◆ Cadillac Palace Theatre,
151 W. Randolph

◆ Tickets, $33-$95

◆ (800) 745-3000;

Updated: March 14, 2013 12:04PM

Misunderstood scientist drinks a potion, seemingly “morphs” into raving lunatic, goes on murderous spree, lusts after sexy brothel worker, reverts to his “normal” mild-mannered self, is comforted by the love of a devoted financee. Repeat.

And it all plays out against a pulsating, pop-rock score.

Such is the strange case of “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical,” the Broadway show currently in its “reinvented” state and touring the country, with a stop in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through March 24. (The show returns to Broadway next month.)

Starring in roles of Dr. Henry Jekyll (the scientist) and Edward Hyde (the sinister mister), is “American Idol” [season four] alum and Tony Award nominee (“Rock of Ages”) Constantine Maroulis, who was most recently seen here in the national touring production of “Rock of Ages.”

With an original book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn, and now directed by Jeff Calhoun, the “Jekyll & Hyde” has undergone a major transformation since its origins in the 1990s (including a four-year run on Broadway beginning in 1997) so much so that it is officially billed as an “all-new production” — a point excitedly hammered home by Maroulis during his chat with the Sun-Times.

Question: What appealed to you about taking on the dual roles for this musical?

Constantine Maroulis: Coming off “Rock of Ages” it was a chance to do something even more challenging, to dig into a more dramatic role, and work with a new, young creative team. It’s exciting to be part of this re-imagined production and watching the show develop to cater more to my strengths and bring a more modern edge to it.

Q. How drastically different is this production from the original, or even its subsequent tour incarnations?

CM: This is almost a completely different show from the one some people may recall from the 1990s. We’ve done a lot of work to the script and the orchestrations and arrangements. We’ve brought a lot more humanity to the story, and the storytelling is much clearer. It’s a very stripped-down production. There’s definitely more of a steampunk vibe going on. A Victorian silhouette with a modern edge to it. Some of the changes are big, but most are subtle. The new orchestrations are just beautiful, and they’ve added great background vocals. There are two new songs in the show that were not in the original Broadway production.

Q. How does your acting identify the two disparate characters? Is it merely a case of seeking out the humanity in Jekyll vs. the monster in Hyde?

CM: There’s more heart in Henry Jekyll than people may have realized. He’s a brilliant scientist but shy and introverted. And he has a beautiful fiancee. But his madness slowly takes over. I just try to find the heart in Henry and everything then flows from that. And I’d like to think handsome. [Laughs]

I didn’t look for the evil in Mr. Hyde. I found Hyde to be a sympathetic character as well. Clearly he’s a murderer and he does evil things, but in a way he kills off these people who were no good. In a weird way we root for him.

Q. This type of attraction — to a definably evil character — is not unique to “Jekyll & Hyde.” “Phantom of the Opera” personified the character you love and loathe at the same time.

CM: I think Frank [Wildhorn] was influenced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, especially his earlier works like “[Jesus Christ] Superstar” and “Phantom of the Opera.” In a way, in “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” [the classic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson] had the original format for this sort of character and love story. This whole dual personality idea became the basis of all sorts of 20th century comic books and Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals.

Q. In this production, Lucy, the strongwilled lady of the night, is played by R&B Grammy nominee Deborah Cox. What’s the on-stage chemistry like?

CM: We are twins! She is an amazing actress and singer. We grew up with the same musical interests. She grew up with Prince and funk and I’ve always been a big fan of that music.

Q. Any other musical influences you care to share?

CM: I grew up in the ’80s so I was really into the Police, U2, Tina Turner, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Motown. But I also love Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, classic rock bands. And I love the music of singers like Nat King Cole and Sinatra.

Q. You just came off “Rock of Ages,” both on Broadway and on tour. What did you take with you from that experience?

CM: That was a great show from the beginning for me. When I was on “American Idol,” I’d built this relationship with the Weavers [producer Matthew Weaver] and the writer [Chris D’Arienzo] and when I knew they were coming to New York and Off Broadway with the show I absolutely wanted to be part of his. Hats off to [Tony-nominated director] Kristin Hanggi who saw me more as Drew, the more shy, introverted kind of character. It worked out great. I like playing these underdog characters. I think I bring groundedness to those kinds of roles. Got the Tony nomination and took it on the road and opened in Chicago. That was pretty cool.

Q. Does “American Idol” seem like a million years ago, or does it feel like it was just yesterday?

CM: A little of both. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and then I see clips of the show and see how dated it is. It’s been about 8 years already.

Q. How much have you changed as a performer since “Idol”?

CM: Well, I was a man of 28 or 29 when I did “Idol.” I had already worked for about 10 years by then, so I wasn’t like many of the young kids who go to that show. I had gotten professional training at the [Boston] Conservatory by then. But I don’t know anything that prepares you for “Idol.” I feel I’ve grown a lot as an artist and a vocalist. But I’m still the theater geek I grew up as in New Jersey.

Q. Do you have any tour rituals, special items you have to have with you on the road, or rituals you go through before a performance?

CM: I keep it pretty basic. I get my rest, my water. I have a good breakfast. On the road I always check out the town. Do some antiquing, check out the vintage stores and foodie spots. I love Chicago. It’s a great city. It’s similar to Manhattan, where I live, but it’s got that Midwest charm that I love. There’s a great ethnicity here and culture. It’s a great city for the arts and pretty girls.

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