Origin of the musical

It was back in his student years that Frank Wildhorn turned to a famous plot by Robert Louis Stevenson. He created theatrical plan for the libretto together with his friend Steve Cuden, while the latter wrote lyrics for the arias and the duets. That was in the end of 1980-s, but they did not have enough money for the performance. Thus the friends abandoned the idea. However, Wildhorn never left his dream to see the show on stage. Two songs from “Jekyll and Hyde” were performed for the first time by Liza Minnelli and "Sammy" Davis, Jr. during Christmas celebration in 1988 in Hawaii.

Soon afterwards Wildhorn meets with Leslie Bricusse, a young but already famous script writer who is also trying out composing music. Wildhorn told him about his long-time idea. Bricusse was quite surprised: how could it be possible that such a piece of literature had not yet interested any composer. By 1990 he re-wrote the initial libretto, and the musical appeared on stage in the Alley Theater in Houston. Irish tenor Colm Wilkinson who sang the leading parts in the musicals “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera” played the part of Jekyll/ Hyde. Linda Eder, Wildhorn’s wife, played Lucy. The show has been successfully performed for five years, then it was transferred to the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. The same year of 1995, in August, “Jekyll and Hyde” went on National Tour of North America.

Finally on the 28th of April, 1997 the musical was directed by Robin Phillips on Broadway. Lucy’s part was again played by the eternal Linda Eder, while the part of Jekyll/ Hyde was performed by an American singer of Italian origin Robert Cuccioli. In 2001 the new version of the musical was put on stage in the Westchester Theater on Broadway.

The musical “Jekyll and Hyde” became well known and was put on stage in Germany, Austria, Japan, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain and Korea. Its first performance in Russia (drama theater version) took place in Moscow in the Theater n.a. Mossoveta in 2005 directed by P. Chomsky. Jekyll/ Hyde was played by Alexander Domogarov.


Origin of the novella

In 1885 in a small town of Bournemouth on the bank of the English Channel R. L. Stevenson wrote one of his most mysterious novellas during the intervals between the pneumonic spasms. As the author himself told, the plot to “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” came to him in a dream. The following year the novella was published. It is rather interesting that the first edition of the book was published exactly during the years when Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis was becoming extremely popular. Just like charming Dr. Jekyll, Freud at the beginning of his career was using various potions, including cocaine that relieved stress and even boosted performance efficiency.

Stevenson’s rather gloomy narration atmosphere in some sense comes very close to science fiction. Writer’s enormous talent together with his rich and vivid imagination helped create the literary work that by the intensity and thrill of the plot and ingenuity and urgency of the situations becomes exceptional not only in the British, but in the world literature. Thus Vladimir Nabokov in his remarkable “Lectures on Foreign Literature” places this novella in the same row with Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” and Gogol’s “Dead Souls”.

This novella raises the eternal problem of humanity – fight between the good and the evil – and resolves it in a pessimistic way. The author has serious doubts about the harmonious nature of a human personality: whether a person’s appearance corresponds to his or her morale. Stevenson mostly doubts the “honorable and respectable” representatives of the British society. Dr. Jekyll is one of that sort of gentleman; he invented a rather strange potion and tested it himself. As a result a kind doctor transformed into a horrible evil creature. Jekyll understands that this creature (doctor called him Mr. Hyde) personifies all the evil inclinations that are hiding in his own soul and that he perhaps always managed to suppress. Mr. Hyde became one of the most popular characters of the XX-century mass culture alongside with Dracula and Frankenstein. Stevenson freed the monster that was hiding in everyone’s soul waiting for the right moment to come out. 

Thus the double life of Dr. Jekyll begins: in his own appearance and in that of Mr. Hyde. When the latter commits a murder, doctor comes to understanding that he has to stop his experiments. However the longing for cruelty that was accessible to Jekyll only when he is Hyde, forces the doctor to take the horrible potion over and over again. As a result, “at first he manages to come back into himself easily: one potion turns him into Hyde, another – into Jekyll, but gradually the better side of his nature weakens and the potion allowing Jekyll to come back into himself finally stops working, so on the brink of disclosure he takes the poison”. (V. Nabokov).

Of all Stevenson’s works only the classic adventure novel “Treasure Island” is as popular among the readers all over the world as this short novella. 


Screen adaptations

Stevenson’s novella which this musical is based on is well-known around the world and was used for various screen adaptations:

1.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», silent, 1908, USA, director Otis Turner, with Hobart Bosworth as Jekyll.

2.     «A Modern Jekyll and Hyde», 1913, USA. With Robert Broderick as Jekyll.

3.     «Horrible Hyde», 1915, USA, director Howell Hansel, Jerold T. Hevener as Jekyll.

4.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1920, USA, director John S. Robertson, John Barrymore as Jekyll.

5.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1931, USA, director Rouben Mamoulian, Fredric March as Jekyll.

6.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1932, USA, director and Jekyll William Vance.

7.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1941, USA, director Victor Fleming, Spencer Tracy as Jekyll.

8.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse», 1947, USA, one-reel animated cartoon, directors Joseph Barbera and William Hanna. 

9.     «The Doctor’s Horrible Experiment», 1958, France, director Jean Renoir, Jean-Louis Barrault as Cordelier (Jekyll).

10.   «Gentleman Jekyll and Driver Hyde», 1950, Canada, director David Bairstow.

11.   «Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», USA, 1953, director Charles Lamont, Boris Karloff as Jekyll.

12.   «The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll », 1960, UK, director  Terence Fisher, Paul Massie as Jekyll.

13.   «Growing Jekyll and Hyde», 1963, UK, short comedy.

14.   «The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1968, Canada-USA, director Charles Jarrot, Kack Palance as Jekyll.

15.   « I, Monster», 1971, UK, director Stephen Weeks, Christopher Lee as Jekyll.

16.   «Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde», 1971, UK, director Roy Ward Baker, Ralph Bates as Jekyll, Martine Beswick as sister Hyde.

17.   «Портфель Джекила и Хайда», 1971

18.   «The Adult Version of Jekyll and Hide», erotic, 1972, USA, directors Bryan Mabe and L. Ray Monde, starring Jennifer Brooks and Rene Bond.

19.   «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1973, USA, director David Winters, Kirk Douglas as Jekyll.

20.   «Dr. Jekyll Likes Them Hot», 1979, Italy, comedy, director and Jekyll – Paolo Villaggio, Edwige Fenech as his secretary. 

21.   «Blood of Dr. Jekyll», 1981, horror, France, director Walerian Borowczyk, Udo Kier as Jekyll.

22.   «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…Together Again», 1982, USA, director Jerry Belson, Mark Blankfield as Jekyll.

23.   «Strange Story of Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1985, USSR, director Alexander Orlov, Innokenty Smoktunovsky as Jekyll.

24.     «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 1986, animation film, Australia.

25.   «Jekyll and Hyde», 1990, USA, director David Wickes, Michael Caine as Jekyll.

26.   «The Pagemaster», 1994, USA, director – Joe Johnston, Leonard Nomoy as Jekyll.

27.   «Doctor Jekyll and Ms Hyde», 1995, USA-UK, comedy, Sean Young as Ms Hyde, Timothy Daly as Richard Jacks (Jekyll).

28.   « Mary Reilly », 1996, USA, director Stephen Frears , John Malkovich as Jekyll, Julia Roberts as Mary. 

29.   «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 2000, Canada-Australia, director Colin Budds, Adam Baldwin as Jekyll.

30.   «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 2002, UK, director Maurice Philips, John Hannah as Jekyll.

31.   «Dr. Jekyll & Mistress Hyde», USA, 2003. Director Tony Marsiglia, Erin Brown as Jekyll, Julian Wells as Heidi Hyde.

33.   «The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen», 2003, USA, director Stephen Norrington, Jason Flemyng as Jekyll.

34.   «Hulk», 2003, USA, director Ang Lee, Eric Bana as Bruce Banner (Jekyll).

35.     «Jekyll + Hyde», 2006, USA-Canada, director Nick Stillwell, Bryan Fisher as Jekyll.

35.   «The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 2006, USA, director John Carl Buechler, Tony Todd as Jekyll.

37.   «Jekyll», TV series, 2007, USA, director Scott Zakarin, Matt Keeslar as Jekyll.

37.   «Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde», 2008, Canada, director Paolo Barzman, Dougray Scott as Jekyll.

39.   «The Incredible Hulk», 2008, USA, director Louis Leterrier,  Edward Norton as Bruce (Jekyll).

40.   «Do No Harm», TV series, 2012-2013, USA, director David Schulner, Steven Pasquale as Dr. Jason Cole (Jekyll).