American Idol star and Tony Award nominee Constantine Maroulis plays the lead double role, with Teal Wicks playing Emma Carew, the love interest of Dr. Jekyll and the eventual hostage of Mr. Hyde.
Wicks is no novice to the stage or to the Pantages. During the Pantages’ 2007-09 run of Wicked, she became the understudy for the lead role, Elphaba. In May 2008, she took over the role in Los Angeles, and then reprised the role in the San Francisco production until February 2010. With such a high-profile show on her resume, Wicks is ready for new challenges and characters.
“With Wicked, I came into it after it had been running for a while so you’re slightly limited in what you’re able to create with the character within the framework of the show,” she said. “With Jekyll and Hyde I get to start with a clean slate and work [Emma] from the ground up.”
Emma is absolutely a test of Wicks’ acting chops, since the character is new to the musical. In the original 1886 novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, there is no love interest to further complicate the Jekyll/Hyde split-personality story, adding an element to the musical that audiences haven’t experienced in the text.
The musical interpretation of this century-old story also allows audiences to take in the transformation of the lead character before their very eyes, with musical cues for what to expect from lead actor Maroulis. Wicks is just glad that she only has one role in the show.
“It’s a huge undertaking as an actor — I mean, each role is such a challenge, to do both of them and make each character different,” she said, referring to the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde role. “I have to applaud Constantine [Maroulis] with what he’s doing because it’s tough. For me, I get to sit back and watch!”
The show, with a split personality as the main plot point, inherently has a high contrast of light and dark themes, but Emma acts as an anchor for Dr. Jekyll, constantly reinforcing his humanity. Wicks boasts about Emma’s strengths as a character, saying that audiences will find her relatable and likable.
“What I like about [Emma] is that she sticks to what she believes in, what she thinks is right. She’s very passionate,” she said. “Within this story, she stays with Dr. Jekyll even though there’s all this crazy stuff going on, and a lot of people are questioning if she’s making the right decision. She fully believes that she is and sticks to her guns for the whole course of the show.”
The darkness of the show — from murder to mad scientists — doesn’t bother Wicks at all. In fact, that’s what she especially likes about it. By its very definition, a musical is supposed to use the emotion of the lyrics and score to develop the characters, but with Jekyll and Hyde, she said the soundtrack especially serves to complement the storyline.
“What’s so cool about this show is the music really embraces it,” she said. “There’s a distinct difference between the rock-driven songs that go along with Hyde and then there’s the lyrical music that goes along with other characters like Emma. The music of the show really embraces the contrast between the light and the dark, which is the whole theme of the show.”
As the show goes on tour, there’s a risk that audiences across the country will react differently to its dark tone, but Wicks has been pleasantly surprised to discover audience’s understanding and appreciation of the show, despite some of its more sinister moments.
“Across the board, the audiences have really embraced it and been supportive for the show, but it’s a little different in each town,” she said. “[The play] is really dark, it has an edge to it, so some people are kind of freaked out by it. The murder in it, there’s death.”
The tone of the play may be dark, but with such a classic story, audiences will be able to immerse themselves in this new interpretation. Has there ever been a Broadway show quite like Jekyll and Hyde? Wicks isn’t even sure it fits into any one genre.
“It’s essentially a Gothic horror story, with mad scientists and crazy creatures running amuck in town,” she says. “It’s like Jack the Ripper meets Frankenstein, but there’s also love and pretty ladies in it.”
Similar to her character Emma, Wicks inadvertently acts as a guiding light for upcoming graduates. As for Wicks’ advice on moving forward professionally after college, she keeps it simple.
“Just be ready to climb the ladder. Don’t get discouraged,” she said. “If you have to do side jobs for a while, do it.”