They take your very soul, don’t they? Sliding down your gullet like the ruby, red droplets of an unusual potion and wrapping your belly in warmth. They consume your spirit, transforming your whole person into someone rabid and ferocious. Your sanity unravels and you are bound to this new entity that you’ve become. Crazed and manic, it’s all you can talk about, all you can think about, and all that you are…
See. I’ve started already. Throughout my life, I’ve always been interested in the duality of man. From favourite films such as Filth and Repo! The Genetic Opera to my own writing, looking at the brooding natures.
Naturally, one of the greatest stories of all time, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde, is the epitome of this type of story. Written in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson, the tale is about the titular doctor passionate about separating the good and evil within us all. Experimenting on himself, he takes a concoction that transforms him into the amoral Mr. Edward Hyde, who begins taking over and wreaking havoc in Soho.
It’s a fantastic story but this year I got in deep with two different adaptations of the story. One was the Fredric March 1931 pre-code masterpiece. The other was Frank Windhorn’s nineties Broadway Musical…
…No wait, that’s wrong, the other was: Jekyll & Hyde: A Gothic Musical – The Concept Album which would eventually become the Broadway Musical. Seeing as it is Halloween today, I am going to talk all about it to entice you into my dangerous game.
The musical follows the same plot of the book. However, similarly to most adaptations, the musical theorises that two different women fall in love with both the Doctor and the Monster. These women are debutante Lisa, Henry Jekyll’s fiancé, and “Girl of the Night” Lucy, who becomes the centre of Hyde’s infatuation.
Set in the Victorian era, the musical is a much derided romp. Somewhat critically panned, the musical faded from the Broadway stage and is only brought to life in amateur dramatics and school productions (including a Florida school who have done it twice, and both times are superb.) The lead has been played most famously by David Hasslehoff, who stars in the only filmed version of the musical and, is…interesting.
Regardless, this article isn’t about the final Broadway version. It is about the concept album. But why? I hear you ask. Why just the concept album?
Because it is just so good. It is bloody brilliant. The arrangements and music are so much better. There are songs in the concept album which were cut or altered for the final musical (and eventually brought back because they are just that good.) This was much to the detriment of the final staged piece because they removed the best song in the complete works: I Need to Know.
I Need to Know is the opening number. It is set a few years before the events of the musical and sees Dr. Jekyll tending to his crazed father. The song is about Jekyll’s burgeoning desire. It’s about how his obsession is ripening within him. I Need to Know highlights that Jekyll isn’t an angelic man who accidentally becomes bad. In this introduction, you can see wisps of Hyde in his words and tone. The Doctor is already pushing himself into insanity and it is an interesting introduction to the character.
The other best song here is It’s a Dangerous Game. The song is a sexual power play between Hyde and Lucy. It revolves around a moment where Lucy wishes to escape Hyde’s evil clutches yet recognises that he has a hold on her. Therefore, the song is this twisted lust song between the pair, as Lucy falls into his arms once more. And it is strangely hot.
I should take a moment to talk about the most famous song from Jekyll & Hyde – This Is the Moment. The song is a ballad by Jekyll when he realises he should take the potion himself. Poised to become a great doctor, man, and to be “seated by the Gods,” Jekyll believes that this, indeed, is the moment. The song is great but why I brought it up is because most film fans will recognise the tune as the final moment in Hugh Jackman’s Oscar Opening Number. It is actually pretty tune for tune. So much so that Windhorn has a credit for the creation.
The Concept Album is full of absolute belters though. Murder! Murder!, Façade, In His Eyes, and Bring on the Men are all brilliant highlights, which were eventually altered for the final musical yet sound best in the Concept Album. There are even interludes that borrow from the book as Dr. Jekyll deals with the transformation.
The other thing that makes the Concept Album so special is Anthony Warlow. You may know that name because he appeared in the 25th Anniversary of the Phantom of the Opera as Australia’s leading Phantom. His voice is genuinely brilliant, powerful, and full of mastery. The difficult thing is that there are two roles for performers to sing. The lighter Doctor, and the growling Hyde. Hyde has a few numbers, most famously Alive. The album and the musical have songs in which both sides have to sing together, with only one performer singing. The World Has Gone Insane and, most famously, The Confrontation. No one does The Confrontation as good as Warlow (perhaps Joe Richter.) Singing lines in quick succession as two different roles – a man and a beast – The Confrontation is an accomplished song and Warlow is phenomenal as the tortured doctor and the menacing man.
Warlow never performed as the dual roles until a few years ago where he led an Australian production of it to great acclaim.
Which brings me to Lisa and Lucy, played by Linda Eder and Carolee Carmello respectfully. They are the two main women in this musical (not the only ones, which is a plus.) However, they are both obsessed with Jekyll and Hyde. This is largely what they sing about. Though Lucy escapes this by having a few numbers about how miserable her life is and how she wants A New Life, it is a bit of a bummer to have two female stories revolve around the main man.
There are also some naff songs including, and probably just, Letting Go which is a maudlin duet between Lisa and her ill-fated father Sir Danvers Carew, which can happily be cut.
That said, it is a brooding and breath-taking musical album. In 2019, they announced that they were making a film, with Alexander Dinelaris penning the script. The movie should definitely be similar to Tim Burton’s Sweeny Todd but with more of an artistic flare. And better singers. I mean how good would Dan Stevens be in this lead role?
Dark and dangerous and absolutely sublime, this musical is begging to be on the big screen.
A Gothic musical romp through the Victorian Era? A chance to fix the flaws of the musical? The possibility of seeing I Need to Know blaring through the cinema?
Yes. This needs to happen. My pulse quickens just thinking about it. So as the nights draw in and the blustery weather skims through the streets, why not grab a glass of ruby red wine, light a few candles, and dive into Windhorn’s Jekyll & Hyde: The Gothic Musical – The Concept Album.
And adore it as much as I do.
You can, and must, listen to the full album on Spotify
Happy Halloween, y’all!