DIVA TALK: A Chat With Jekyll & Hyde Star Deborah Cox

By Andrew Gans
26 Apr 2013

Cox with Constantine Maroulis in Jekyll & Hyde.
Photo by Chris Bennion

Question: Was Frank Wildhorn involved at all?
Cox: Frank was more involved when it came to establishing the sound for me and Constantine. Being the writer of all these epic songs, he had a vision as well. He worked closely with myself and he worked closely with Constantine on the concept recording, and that kind of birthed these two roles. And, then once we got on the road, then we really, breathed new life into these characters much more firmly.

Question: How would you describe Lucy, the Lucy that you’re portraying?
Cox: I would describe her as a survivor. She’s a very complex woman who’s in a bad situation, but she knows that she’s bigger and better than the situation she’s in. So she strives to find something better. She falls in love with Henry Jekyll quickly because she’s never been respected by a man before. She’s in this abusive place, but she doesn’t let that beat her down. Her spirits are always alive and always motivated. She’s motivated, I think, by being in this bad situation, and when she meets Henry Jekyll, she’s motivated to find love and find a better situation for herself. This has been the most challenging role I’ve ever played. She’s really uninhibited, she’s really complex and sexy and sultry, and it’s made me explore a different side of me that’s really exhilarating… [letting] your sexuality be sort of what’s worn on your sleeve, whereas as a person, that’s not the first thing that I’m focused on. [Laughs.]

Question: Do you have a favorite moment in the show for Lucy? Is there anything you look forward to each night?
Cox: I think for me each night is different, which is what I love about musical theatre. It’s just profoundly magical. There are moments that happen every night that I couldn’t have thought up. Every night I go into it with a fresh palette. I love that you’re kind of walking this tightrope every night and there’s no safety net, so you’ve got to go out there and do it.  Sometimes it’s "A New Life," sometimes it’s "Sympathy, Tenderness," sometimes it’s "Bring On The Men." That’s what’s really amazing about this role. It’s a great role for an actress because she’s such a complex character. I get to show many layers of her as a character, and then the songs are so different as well. There’s a lot of dynamics in the show that I get to show and highlight as well.

Question: Your character doesn't have a happy ending. How difficult is that emotionally to play eight times week?
Cox: I think the toughest part for me playing her is that she’s so submissive, in a way. She has to take the abuse, and that’s just not my nature. So it’s just a constant fight physically, emotionally and spiritually onstage to just be abused. I have to take it and portray some kind of restraint [laughs]. I fight through it, and I hear the audiences – they hate that I die in the end. But I think in some ways it keeps the audiences coming back, too. I know, for me, I love tearjerkers. I love movies and songs that make me cry, and I’ll listen to them over and over again, for that feeling, and I think audiences do the same thing in a way. They want to see and go through the journey and the emotional roller coaster of the show.