The music of the night returns with a stunning makeover as the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s global megahit “The Phantom of the Opera” continues through Sunday, April 22 courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.
Produced by legendary British powerhouse Cameron Mackintosh and based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells a romantic, mysterious and compelling account of the titular musician who takes young soprano Christine Daae under his wing in late 19th century Paris. Meanwhile, Christine is wooed by the dashing Raoul, infuriating the Phantom and fueling his vengeful takeover of the Paris Opera House.
Here are five reasons why you should see this thrilling spectacle on its final weekend.
1. EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Director Laurence Connor brings character-driven finesse and breezy fluidity to this reconceived production. He dials back the cinematic opulence of the original helmed by Harold Prince (which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary on Broadway) while adding new touches. In particular, “Prima Donna,” an ode to diva Carlotta (excellently conceited Trista Moldovan), is treated as a beautiful transition, guiding the audience directly into the operatic sequence “Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh.”
Connor also moves the vibrant “Masquerade” inside the Opera House, another effective departure from the original, and alters the Phantom’s suspenseful final seconds to magical degrees. “The original production was brilliant, but this production is truly spectacular,” said Eva Tavares, who portrays the haunted Christine. “I also feel ours is a grittier production. We want to make our characterizations as real as possible.”
2. A POWERFUL LOOK AT EMPATHY
Despite the Phantom’s treachery and defiance in his obsessive pursuit of Christine, it is imperative to feel some sense of connection to his struggle nonetheless.
“I find the show to be based in a real place of empathy,” Tavares said. “It’s about loving someone and caring for someone even when they don’t love or care for themselves. Even when the people around Christine tell her the Phantom is vicious, she knows the real person inside. He was a tortured individual who was dealt a hard hand at a young age. Christine’s unabashed and unfiltered empathy really speaks to people. She displays a kindness we all need in our lives.”
3. A BEAUTIFULLY COMPLEX CHRISTINE
As Tavares navigates her role with lovely elegance, she provides a beautifully complex journey from giddy chorus girl (her star-is-born excitement throughout the gorgeous “Think of Me” is an early highpoint) to mature woman.
There is also a very telling moment in Act 1 when Christine grows suicidal, another savvy directorial choice from Connor.
The soaring ballad “All I Ask of You” literally becomes Raoul’s plea to bring Christine off the ledge.
4. APPEALING NON-TRADITIONAL CASTING
Standing 6-foot-7, Quentin Oliver Lee, an African-American, firmly leads the production in the vocally demanding titular role. His refreshing and imposing presence certainly gives the material a great deal of renewed subtext.
“Diversity in casting shouldn’t be an issue,” said Tavares, who is 5-foot-1. “The people who are right for a role should be cast. Quentin is an amazing actor who brings a lot to the role. We have a great dynamic as friends. I’m so glad and so grateful to be part of a company that sees the value in diversity in casting.”
5. VISUAL SPLENDOR
Even though this tour overall strays from the original’s iconic nature, you’ll still be dazzled by Maria Bjornson’s fabulous costumes, Scott Brown’s scenic design, Scott Ambler’s terrific choreography (notice the Paso Doble intensity within “The Point of No Return”), Nina Dunn’s video/projection design, and one grand chandelier that is a character all its own.
WANT TO GO?
What: “The Phantom of the Opera”
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton
When: Through April 22; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets/more info: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com
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