Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse's musical Jekyll & Hyde took such a long route to Broadway that this original Broadway cast album is in fact the third recording of the score, following a 1990 studio cast version and a 1994 two-CD set based on the Houston production. All three, however, star Linda Eder, a Barbra Streisand soundalike, singing songs that frequently sound like the sort of adult contemporary ballads Streisand perfected in the 1970s; it's hard to hear Eder sing "A New Hope" and not think of "The Way We Were" or "Evergreen." Besides Michel Legrand and Paul Williams, Wildhorn's other main influences are Andrew Lloyd Webber and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the composers who have introduced the semi-operatic, melodramatic shows Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, both of which are also based on 19th century European works of literature. It seems necessary to cite all these influences so prominently because Jekyll & Hyde is so much a secondhand effort, not to mention second-rate. Theater buffs have derided the music as "pop," and the director even offers a defensive sleeve note to that effect, but that's not really the problem. Rather, the work is undeniably theatrical, and not only because "This Is the Moment" (which Jekyll sings before turning into Hyde) competes with Queen's "We Are the Champions" as a sports anthem these days. The songs work in theatrical terms, especially when Robert Cuccioli is conducting duets with himself, switching octaves wildly as he turns from Jekyll to Hyde. The problem is that the show has few of the theater's common pretensions; it doesn't claim to be much more than an entertaining freak show with some catchy songs. No wonder, having finally made it to Broadway in the spring of 1997, it quickly settled in to a long run.
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