The pay-per-view based Broadway Television Network (BTN) will air its closing week taping of the Frank Wildhorn-Leslie Bricusse musical, Jekyll & Hyde , on March 10. International recording artist David Hasselhoff (of “Baywatch” fame) plays the title role in the Tony nominated musical that surpassed the 1,500 performance mark on Dec. 1, 2000.
Hasselhoff stars with Coleen Sexton (Lucy), as well as Andrea Rivette (Emma), George Merritt (Mr. Utterson) and Barrie Ingham (Sir Danvers). Also featured are Martin Van Treuren and Corinne Melancon, with Juan Betancur, David Chaney, Sheri Cowart, Bill E. Dietrich, John Treacy Egan, Robert Jensen, Peter Johl, Stuart Marland, Brandi Chavonne Massey, Frank Mastrone, Kelli O'Hara, Joel Robertson, John Schiappa, Bonnie Schon, Sally Ann Tumas and Russell B. Warfield.
BTN taped Jekyll and Hyde in late December, prior to its Broadway closing on Jan. 7. The network's other two tapings, for the Sondheim revue, Putting It Together (scheduled to air in 2001) and the Leiber and Stoller revue, Smokey Joe’s Cafe (which aired last September and which re-airs in 2001) were both taped on closing nights. This “closing night taping” was touted as part of the BTN formula. In fact, with the Dec. 23 Jekyll and Hyde taping, BTN has clearly broken out from the “closing night” model it was first publicizing to establish an even more definitive trend: Taping major Broadway productions that are based on the work of established composers and lyricists.
Although critically challenged at various times in its long life, Wildhorn’s Jekyll and Hyde has proven to be extremely popular with audiences. The show debuted at Houston's Alley Theatre, and built momentum as it moved to Broadway. Wildhorn’s wife, the singer Linda Eder, was the show’s original lead (Lucy). Jekyll and Hyde established Linda Eder’s career as a diva and was Frank Wildhorn’s long hoped for Broadway debut. His other two Broadway shows were The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War. Wildhorn recently produced Eder’s popular Christmas CD and is working on her solo record before returning to his next theatrical project, the sprawling historical musical series comprising The Romantics.
Employing high-definition and surround sound technology, BTN captures the "evocative tale of romance and the epic battle between good and evil" which will air "on cable and satellite pay-per-view channels in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America."
In a prepared statement, Hasselhoff said, "I'm delighted that Broadway Television Network is preserving the legacy of this phenomenal show, making it available to devoted fans who want to see it again and audiences who missed the show when it was on Broadway."
In the same BTN statement, company president Bruce Brandwen said, "BTN has once again captured the actual Broadway performance on stage, in keeping with our standard of bringing only 'real Broadway' to the viewing public."
The creative team behind BTN's taping of Jekyll and Hyde includes book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, music by Frank Wildhorn, with television direction by Emmy winner Don Roy King. BTN's creative director of stage, Tony winner Jerry Zaks participated in the production and was on hand for the actual taping. Jekyll and Hyde was conceived for the stage by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn.
Stage producers for the show include SFX Theatrical Group and FOX Theatricals, in association with Jerry Frankel and the Landmark Entertainment Group. BTN's Internet subsidiary, BroadwayOnline.com Inc., owns or manages a large library of theatrical Web sites of international stature including Playbill On-Line competitor theatre.com and BroadwayOnline.com.
Priced at $19.95 retail in the U.S., this is BTN's third Broadway musical to be captured "live-in-performance." BTN says that "Jekyll and Hyde will be distributed in the U.S. through iN DEMAND and TVN/Cablevision, [with] both standard and high definition broadcasts via DirecTV and DISH Network. Canadian systems Viewer's Choice and Bell ExpressVu will broadcast in both standard and high definition for a suggested retail price of $24.95 Canadian. DirecTV Latin America will broadcast throughout Latin America for $10. "
—By Murdoch McBride