After a 25-week national tour, Jekyll & Hyde has finally landed on Broadway, and landing with it is fan favorite Teal Wicks, who plays the role of innocent Emma Carew. Wicks first tread the boards on the Great White Way as Elphaba in Wicked, a role she has performed since 2008 in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now Wicks is making herself at home in Victorian England opposite Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox in Frank Wildhorn's musical thriller, which celebrated its Broadway opening on April 18. Broadway.com chatted with Wicks about her passionate fans (the “Twickes”), life on the road and why she’s dying to be a national park ranger.
You just came off a 25-week tour. How was it?
For the most part it was good! This was my first legit, big tour and it was kind of like, “Oh, OK! So this is what’s it’s all about.”
Was there a different mentality among the cast knowing that you were headed to Broadway?
Yes, there definitely was. I feel like the beauty of doing this tour before opening the show on Broadway is that we basically had seven months to finesse it and fine tune it and play around and make choices and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. When we opened on Broadway, we all had it in our bodies and in our bones really well.
What do audiences need to know about this revival?
We’re trying to make it a little bit edgier in aesthetics and sound than the original. Because we have Constantine [Maroulis] and Deborah [Cox], we're embracing the more contemporary rock and R&B sound, so the orchestration has been enhanced to embrace that. Lots of drums and electric guitars.
Did that pose a challenge for you?
My character plays along more traditional musical theater lines, so I don’t really get to get down and groovy. I love musical theater, but rock 'n' roll and blues are my favorites, so I always try to embrace it—not that I have the most gritty, groovy rock voice, but in my soul it’s there.
Why do you think Jekyll & Hyde is so beloved by a core group of fans?
The music is just fantastic. It was Frank Wildhorn’s first show, and people were like, "Wow!" They’re amazing pop songs with a theatrical backdrop. Then you hear [original Lucy] Linda [Eder] belting her face off and you get introduced to this gorgeous voice and these beautiful songs. I feel like everybody likes an indulgent, gothic tale, and this is a nice, sexy little thriller.
Frank Wildhorn’s shows always generate a lot of buzz, some of it negative. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know. Frank has so much love and heart in everything that he makes. All of his shows are like children to him; he just adores them. With Frank, it seems like a love or hate thing—people either adore his music or for some reason they totally pan him and blow him off. I don’t really understand why, because he writes incredible music. I think people may feel guilty for liking it because it’s just pure, indulgent music.
What has been your experience with the devoted Jekyll fans?
They’re all very encouraging. I haven’t experienced any who have been like, “What are you guys doing? This is terrible!” Everybody seems accepting and really excited about it. It’s a very different [production] from the original, which I think is good because they understand that it’s not the 1990s Jekyll & Hyde, it’s the 2010s.
You have a passionate fan base, as well. Do you notice that presence online?
I do! They’re very sweet. They’ve named themselves the “Twickies,” which is fun. One thing I really love about them is that they’re very encouraging of the work I do and the people I work with. If I’m doing a show, they see the show and then start following my fellow artists that I work with, like composers I’ve done concerts for, even if I’m not in them. I’m very, very lucky to have the fans that I have.
How does your experience in Wicked compare to Jekyll?
This time around I’m kickstarting [the production]. This is our company, and we’re starting it, rather than coming into a company that’s been running for a long time. Over at the Gershwin, I was very fortunate with Wicked, but it was my first Broadway show, so I was sort of in a daze. I was thrilled but also just like, “Okay, you know what you’re doing. You’ve done this role for almost two years so you’ve got it down.” This time around, I still know what I’m doing, but it is a little scary. So far, the audiences have been great, but it’s still the whole question of are they going to embrace us? What’s going to happen?
At least you don’t have to go green every night.
Oh my god, yeah. I can actually show up at half hour rather than an hour before. I have a little bit more leeway to embrace life outside of the theater than when I was doing Elphaba.
How is your life outside the theater? Do you have time for hobbies?
In theory I do, but I’ve sort of been lazy. I actually brought a jewelry soldering kit on tour with me. I like that. I started doing jewelry soldering when I was the Elphaba standby in L.A.; the Glinda standby taught me, and I got hooked. I’m hoping to make a mini soldering setup in my dressing room here so I can do it between shows.
You also played Julie Jordan in Carousel last summer. Was that a dream role for you?
Now it’s a dream role! Carousel was a show I discovered later in life. When I was younger, I was sort of avoiding the traditional musical theater shows. I don’t really know why, but I was like, “I don’t want to be the little ingénue, I want to be the cool, edgy rock person.” I looked into Carousel a little bit more and I just fell in love with it. It’s such a brilliant piece of theater. I think it’s almost a perfect show, especially for when it was written.
If you weren’t performing on Broadway, what would you be doing?
I would do something that would allow me to be outdoors and travel. I always say—slightly joking but I actually mean it—I’d be a park ranger and work for the national park system. I’d do something dealing with nature and the environment because I really love being outdoors, especially having grown in California because we have amazing state and national parks. I would have liked to be a professional snowboarder, but I sort of lost steam for that once I decided to take the theater route.
After so many months, what are your plans when Jekyll ends later this summer?
There are some cool trips with my boyfriend and family on the horizon. My boyfriend and I are always talking about trips we want to do and wondering when we have the time. Now we will!
See Teal Wicks in Jekyll & Hyde at the Marquis Theatre.