Published on November 12th, 2013 | by Kira0
The Magic Of The Phantom Of The Opera
It is not surprising that The Phantom of the Opera is still going strong after 25 years of splendor, incredible talent, and a truly magical set. Between flying and exploding chandeliers, a grand ballroom staircase that seems to come from nowhere, and misty midnight boat rides over a forgotten lake, it is hard not to lose yourself in the Phantom’s power.
The Phantom of the Opera, at the Majestic Theatre, is a classic Hunchback of Notre Dame story. The young innocent Christine Daaé’s (played by Marni Raab, who was filling in for Mary Michael Patterson) talent and beauty enchants a prodigy composer (played by Hugh Panaro), who just so happens to have been a crazed circus freak on the loose and inhabiting/terrorizing the Paris Opera House. With Christine’s father recently passed away she is looking for musical guidance, which the Phantom quickly fills, as her “Angel of Music.” For some reason, the Phantom has power over the Paris Opera House and through murder, magic, and demanding letters, forces Christine into lead rolls particularly for the Opera he wrote. This is to the dismay of the comically dramatic Carlotta Guidicelli (played by Michele McConnell), who is very accustom to being the lead. When Carlotta is still cast in leading roles, she is choked up and Christine must take her place.
It is challenging to determine exactly how Christine feels about the Phantom: intrigued, terrified, inspired, pity? We know that she and her old friend Raoul (played by Jeremy Hays’s understudy Greg Mills) are in love, but she seems to be transfixed by the Phantom’s command when he wills it. To be honest, with a voice like Hugh Panaro’s, I do not blame her. All the voices in The Phantom of the Opera were superb; however, Panaro’s voice stood out among the group like dripping honey. I wish I could say the same for the lyrics. While I found myself giggling every time the organ boomed and loved the orchestra, I considered many of the lyrics repetitive, boring, and a little cheesy. There were also points when everyone was singing at each other where the lyrics were completely unintelligible, making the story line a little more challenging to follow. Fortunately, the acting and mood of the show carried the storyline along fairly well.
What really stood out in this performance was the spectacular set and costumes. Since it is set at the Opera house there is a menagerie of scenes from the different performances they are putting together. Each of these clips comes with their own sets and grandiose costumes. The most impressive set was the ballroom staircase that welcomes us back after the intermission. It looks like it was actually extracted from a Paris mansion. However, my favorite sets where the boat rides on misty candle lit lake going to the Phantom’s lair. In that same setting, it was very powerful to watch Raoul jump into the lake and disappear.
Overall, The Phantom of the Opera is a classic must see. I totally understand why it is the longest running Broadway to date and the most successful entertainment venture of all time. I am not the biggest fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, but Harold Prince’s directing where each scene seamlessly shifted into the next, the beautiful voices and acting of the cast, and the incredible splendor of the set and costumes, truly makes this a magical experience. You can find tickets ranging from $27-$157.