Jekyll & Hyde Reboots, Returns to Houston With Teal Wicks

The toughest part of playing the fiance of Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) is not the mounting tension as the man she loves becomes increasingly erratic in his behavior, according to Teal Wicks, the actress playing Emma Carew.

"The hardest thing is putting on the corsets and buckles," she says, laughing. And this is an actress who's far from a novice at getting ready to go onstage -- her breakthrough role in 2011 was playing the green-faced witch Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway.

Now she's coming to Houston in composer Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde, a musical that originated in Houston and that has been significantly tweaked over the years since it first appeared on Broadway to mixed critical write-ups. Theatre Under the Stars is presenting the production.

They've cut some of the excess music and characters, toughened up Wicks' character and "done a lot of re-orchestrating of the songs so they sound completely new," according to Wicks.

"They've tried to give Emma a little more guts and wit," Wicks says, as her character decides to stand by her man despite mounting evidence that something has gone very awry with the good doctor.

"My character Emma, she sort of grew up in society in London but was always a passionate lady who likes to follow her passions rather than her duty. She falls in love with Dr. Jekyll (played by Constantine Maroulis) and they get engaged. She loves his commitment and passion for his work."

Wicks grew up in California and took ballet lessons at an early age. She fell in love with theater after seeing the movie Annie and decided that's what she wanted to do. Fortunately, as she discovered later, she could sing as well. Moving to New York City after graduating from UC Irvine, she says she found work in the theater world almost immediately.

"My dream is to originate a role in a new musical," she says. "I'm hoping to create a character from the ground up. I'd love to do more plays and travel in Europe again."

Jekyll & Hyde offers "a very entertaining night at the theater. It's got amazing effects," she says. "The set and the technical design of the show is really stunning [in fact it is so involved the the Houston performances had to be moved back by a day when they discovered they wouldn't have enough time to get the set here after the last performance in San Diego] and the music is so lovely to indulge in."

Jekyll & Hyde runs October 10-21 at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-558-8887, or visit the TUTS website.

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