Jekyll & Hyde is all about the duality of man and the battle that rages within us all between good and evil. So perhaps fittingly, the musical now at the Stage Door Theatre offers radically contrasting moments. There are, that is, strokes of theatrical excellence and passages of grindingly bad dialogue that had this reviewer glancing at his watch. Based on the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson, the show, written and scored by Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn, tells the tale of a young scientist, Dr. Henry Jekyll. Seeking a cure for his father's mental illness, Jekyll attempts to contain and control the dual essence of man. Unable to find funding or a subject, Jekyll turns the experiment on himself, in the process turning himself into his evil alter ego, Edward Hyde, who exacts revenge on those who wouldn't fund his research. The story is further developed by Jekyll's relationships with his fiancée, Emma, and working-girl Lucy, whom he attempts to rescue from a life on the streets. Stage Door's production turns in a pair of stand-out performances by E.L. Losada in the schizophrenic role Dr. Jekyll/Edward Hyde and Wendy Wood as the hooker with a heart of gold. Losada transforms himself into the odious Hyde with little more than tousled hair and a tattered coat. During his song Confrontation, Losada writhes, hunches, strains, and grimaces, magically turning lab-rat nerd Jekyll into menacing brute Hyde. Wood is equally impressive as Lucy, immediately stealing the show in the high-energy crowd-pleaser Bring on the Men, the show's most engaging song-and-dance piece. Sadly, though, all of the energy soon seeps away as, somewhere in the middle of the show, Jekyll turns tediously introspective, going through a lengthy struggle with his inner demons. (Through May 8 at the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. Call 954-344-7765.)
It can't possibly be their fault, so don't blame the stars. In fact, give Lucie Arnaz and Elizabeth Ashley two points for doing everything humanly possible to try to make Ann & Debbie work. All their glamour, presence, acting and overacting, terrific timing, gorgeous legs, and distinctive voices, together with -- for all we know -- wishing, hoping, and praying still can't make Lionel Goldstein's mindless little skit pass for a real play. Harmless schlock just ain't what it used to be. Ann and Debbie are an odd couple who for years shared the love of Ann's husband, Jack, now deceased. On the eve of the reading of Jack's will, they meet at a hotel in Manhattan for a bout of that favorite Broadway pastime: truth-telling. They get drunk and drunker; they kvetch about the room; they go through their lives and then -- spoiler alert! -- they realize that sly old Jack probably had a third woman on the side somewhere. Maybe she'll be mentioned in the will. As Ann and Debbie go off to Jack's office to go through his papers and figure out who the floozy is, the curtain comes down. That's it. Never mind that one could see the single plot twist coming, that the friendship between the two women is not believable for a second, that the inelegant script is peppered with stuff like "between Jack and I,'' or that the whole affair just slogs along like a bad setup for a second act that never comes. (Through April 10 at Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Miami. Call 305-442-4000.)
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