Sebastian Bach

The New York Observer; 2000

Bach on Broadway

The other day, Sebastian Bach was at Scafati, a men’s clothier on West 42nd Street, being fitted for the costumes he’ll wear as the new lead in the Broadway musical Jekyll & Hyde. Mr. Bach is best known as the big-haired blonde ex-frontman for the late-80’s heavy metal band Skid Row. He will take over for former Melrose Place baddie Jack Wagner on June 13.

Mr. Bach, 32, stood patiently with his arms straight out. Three wardrobe people scurried around him pinning up a pair of gray wool pants, a black vest and a long black coat-dress. At 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and 185 pounds, he was still a beanpole rocker with big blond hair.

As they turned him into Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Bach recited some lines from the musical’s big show-stopper, “This Is The Moment.” “So it comes to this/One great golden chance—that only I can take/When everything I fought for is at stake/To make the mark that only I can make!” Everyone at Scafati clapped. “I mean, who the fuck couldn’t relate to that?” he said.

Back in 1989, Skid Row were huge. They sold 22 million records, with metal anthems like “Youth Gone Wild,” “18 and Life” and the power ballad/prom fave, “I Remember You.” But Mr. Bach got himself in trouble when he was photographed wearing a t-shirt that said, “AIDS Kills Fags Dead”—a sentiment that does not play too well on Broadway. He’s still apologizing. “There’s no defense for it,” he said. “But it’s been twelve years. Twelve. Years.”

Since then Mr. Bach has been touring in various combinations, most recently as Sebastian Bach & Friends. Then came the call for Jekyll and Hyde.

“The producers loved my singing voice, but they were concerned about my en-un-ci-a-tion,” he explained. “They had to make sure I could pronounce ‘fourteenth Bishop of Basingstoke.’ I couldn’t go in there and go, ‘Hey dude, right on! Let me hear ya, Detroit!'”

Mr. Bach slapped one of the wardrobe assistants a high five.

He was so excited to get the part that he began to memorize the script immediately while out on the road, often reading lines by the pool with Matt, his 300-pound bodyguard, who would stand in for Dr. Jekyll’s doomed love interest Lucy. Mr. Bach’s only previous acting experience was as a drug dealer in two small films, and as a rock star who gets killed by Jello Biafra in the direct-to-video, space alien movie, Skulheadface. But this was different.

“I thought the dialogue was going to be a lot harder to learn, but I believe the stuff this guy’s saying,” Mr. Bach said. “It rolls off the tongue naturally.” Mr. Bach has not read the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson novella. “I’ve been busy with the script,” he said.

“I get to slit seven hookers’ throats, beat a priest to death with my walking stick. Basically, it’s about what I did last night.” He laughed. “You gotta see it, man. Blood, smoke, fire. I get to shoot drugs right in my arm, tie it off, blood spurts everywhere!”

Mr. Bach’s appearance in the show has come as a shock to some of Jekyll and Hyde‘s devoted fans—known as Jekkies—a few of whom have seen the show more than 70 times. When it was announced that Mr. Bach was taking over, they began posting their feelings on the show’s website: “Performing on a stage in front of throngs of shrieking, scantily clad fans is NOT the same as doing J/H,” sniffed one Jekky.

“Personally,” wrote another, “I think letting Bach perform the roll [sic] of Jekyll and Hyde is the most embarrassing thing that could have happened. He could possibly be the downfall of this musical. Let me tell you guys, we are in for trouble.”

“I scream,” Mr. Bach admitted. “I can scream. I love screaming. There’s nothing wrong with screaming. But singing is fun, too. I was the lead soprano in my choir. I actually toured churches in upstate New York when I was 9 with my whole choir from Canada. When I hear Whitney Houston sing ‘I Will Always Love You’ I have to sit the fuck down.”