Last night, I went to go see the play Jekyll And Hyde. I went to the Pantages Theater in Hollywood and the reason the trip was so important was that the way it was presented would have 20th century playgoers rolling in their graves.
As a frequent attendee of the Pantages Theater presentations, I have noticed a shift in the production and performances of these plays. The 2007 Wicked performance with the play's use of effects and mechanical contraptions brought more theater goers than ever before.
Pantages, realizing they needed to adapt or become an archaic art like jazz or opera, started “dumbing down” theater. I noticed this for the first time during Rock Of Ages, a play about a girl and a boy coming to Hollywood to become an actress and rockstar respectively. In fact, the play did so well it was made into a movie and the “dumbing down” or commercialization continued.
Last night's performance proved that all so well for me. As soon as the light dimmed, the first note played by the wind and string section was accompanied by a distorted guitar, drum set and an electric bass. Strobes flashed and I felt as if I was not in the Pantages anymore but at a rock concert.
In addition to the rock symphony group, the sex and violence was more present than in the book. In just ten minutes of the play, five characters died. This performance was flashier than the other plays I have attended, which included The Lion King, Little Women and West Side Story.
This play seemed to be on par with others such as Shrek, Hair and Rock Of Ages. However, I must commend the cast who were not all rock and roll. Constantine Maroulis, for example, does a fantastic job as both Jekyll and Hyde.
He kept his voice loud and hit every high note, which impressed me every time.
Deborah Cox also was amazing. The emotion she portrayed as a prostitute who wanted a new start was brilliant. Honestly, I would rather have this new age of theater than watch it shrink or die. I can learn to accept loud guitars and strobe lights because at least I will be enjoying them in the Pantages.