Thursday, April 22, 2004

Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical


I recently underwent a sort of life-altering altering event that I feel the need to share with others. No, it wasn’t a near death experience or even a Christmas miracle. It was something as simple, yet as profound as witnessing HBO’s broadcast of “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” starring David Hasselhoff.
The musical itself is the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story of an obsessed scientists whose experiments turn him into a monster, I think. That is, I think there was a story in there, somewhere. I was so awestruck that for all I know the actual plot could have been the telling of the opening of a new Six Flags rollercoaster. Maybe upon several further viewings, the story will become more apparent.
The musical portion of the, well, Musical, was obviously written by someone who had recently been hit over the head several times with a large blunt object while Iron Maiden songs were playing, leaving the writer with the sole belief that the only criteria for writing musical lyrics is all lines must rhyme, no matter how forced and silly the result may be. And the results in “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” are both very forced and very silly. You may, at first, be inspired to make a game of viewing the musical numbers, guessing what line will follow next, but this impulse will wear off quickly, as you realize that no matter how silly your guess may be, it’s always correct, provided it rhymes with the previous line. Several of the musical numbers reach a climax involving three or four characters all belting out their tunes in unison, unison meaning they all sing at the same time, not as in they all sing the same lines or in the same key or notes that should be grouped together. The result sounds something along the lines of what a musical version of a Jerry Springer panel might be. Every musical theater cliché is made use of here, with the writers proudly yelling, “run with it… keep going… just a little farther now… that’s it… keep going…”
“Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” in itself would warrant perhaps a moments glance from me while channel surfing, maybe a “what in the hell” before I surfed on to a “Dude, Where’s My Car” or an “Exit Wounds”, were it not for the breakthrough performance of one star, THE star, Mr. Hasselhoff, who, it would appear has recently contacted Michael Jackson’s personal plastic surgeon and asked for the “fleshless skull look” facelift. Mr. Hasselhoff does not only chew the scenery, I believe he still has some left over, stored in Tupperware, sitting in the back of his fridge, that he could not finish in one performance. I think there were some other people starring in this performance as well, somewhere off in Mr. Hasselhoff’s shadows. Mr. Hasselhoff portrays both title roles himself, a challenge he meets with such ingenuity that Sir Laurence himself would be intimidated. When playing the role of scientist Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hasselhoff ties his hair back into a ponytail, when playing the alter-ego, the murderous Mr. Hyde, he lets his long greasy hair hang down in his face and leers out of the corner of his eyes. It makes one wonder if only the top staging directors were brought in on this, or if the master thespian brought this idea to the table himself. All of Mr. Hasselhoff’s talking car, beach running, German wooing (can you make a Hosselhoffian statement without these analogies!) experience builds up to the climactic ending where Jekyll and Hyde face off, alone. Here the lighting team lends a hand to Hasselhoff for this challenge. When he sings his Jekyll lines, he turns his head to show his hair neatly tucked behind his ear, and is bathed in bright light. When Hyde responds, he turns his head to reveal long greasy curls shadowing half his face, and the light goes off. And back and forth it goes, over and over, as they sing “No you can’t” “Yes I can” “No you can’t” “Yes I can” (I am paraphrasing here, since the actual lyrics are not far from this yet still manage to somehow rhyme.) Actually, I think there was one more scene after this one, but who can remember after a spectacle like that.
After the final applause and curtain calls, Mr. Hasselhoff saunters out (and believe me, what he does can only qualify as sauntering) to front stage to thank the audience, admitting that this was his first stage experience. And, as if that weren’t enough of a show of gratitude, he ends it all with one final, glorious Lord of the Dance half split stance. No, no, no, thank you, Mr. Hasselhoff.
I highly recommend to anyone who has read on this far that they watch “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” as it airs this month on HBO. If you do not have cable, try to track down a copy on video, if for nothing else, the final Hasselhoff scene. If all else fails, and you can’t find it anywhere, try giving ol’ David a call. I’m sure he’ll be happy to lend you one of his copies.

* Note: This review was originally written in 2002, and sadly, I do not believe HBO is still airing this masterpiece.