I had been looking forward to the US touring production of "The Phantom of the Opera" for months. This particular production of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical showcases new costumes, sets, staging, and choreography. You can imagine how excited I was as I entered the theater, though I was anxious to see whether or not the changes would do justice to the story. Our group of friends and family sat down in the front row and prepared to witness the spectacle. And, of course, we all felt chills as the infamous chandelier lit up and the overture began. Overall, I was blown away by the excellent acting, intricate costumes, and brilliant sets.
The actors had unique portrayals of their respective characters. Chris Mann was a magnificent Phantom. Those who are familiar with the musical know that the Phantom is a complicated character. He is plagued by a deformed face which prohibits regular relationships with others. He yearns for the romantic love of the singer Christine Daaé, though also proves himself to be an unstable murderer. Many past actors who portrayed the Phantom, I feel, did an excellent job of displaying the character's tormented state. However, Chris Mann is one of the few actors who has been able to truly capture the actual insanity of the Phantom. His performance of "Music of the Night" in his conflicting treatment of Christine: his tone flows between gentle and rough. The most impressive aspect about Mann is his ability to fully display the psychotic, murderous side of the Phantom while simultaneously causing the audience to feel sympathetic for him (especially in his final moments on stage).Katie Travis as Christine was another great casting choice. She caused me to see Christine as more naive than I had previously. Through the acting of Travis, I saw Christine as more of a victim than an instigator of the feud between the Phantom, the hero Raoul, and the theater managers. Yet she showed that Christine could be strong in her own way as she challenged Raoul's plans to ensnare the Phantom. I felt this was important in the character building of Christine. In the end, she is the one who must make the painful decision to leave the Phantom alone, choosing instead the charming Raoul (though it is the Phantom who encourages her choice). Her performance of "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" sent chills down my spine, as I felt her emotional representation of Christine's confusion and loss of her father. The emotions appeared clearly in her singing. Besides, Katie Travis has the strong voice to fill the demanding role of Christine!
The set was an amazing combination of visual pleasure and practicality. The entire play is performed using a single set piece which unfolds and opens up for the various settings. Even the design of the set is more realistic in tone. One could say it displays the "nitty gritty" details of the story's settings had the entire plot happened in reality. The most impressive component of the set, I believe, is the "Phantom of the Opera" scene. Wooden stairs appear as the Phantom and Christine descend into the catacombs of the opera and disappear behind them. This took place on the side of the giant set piece, which completely unfolded to reveal the Phantom's underground lair. Further, the massive chandelier was truly a breathtaking sight to behold. Beginning under a shroud of cloth, the cover disappears to reveal the sheer beauty of the piece while illuminated. The chandelier drop, complete with sparks of flame, struck me as one of the play's highlights. Being able to see the set alone was worth the ticket price!
"The Phantom of the Opera" has become Broadway legend. Not only is it praised by critics, but it consistently brings in fans of the theater to view and appreciate this theatrical gem. The classic love story is a great place to find quality entertainment yet thought-provoking concepts of love, emotional abuse, and redemption.
The tour is scheduled to run at least through July 2017. I highly recommend you see if the show will come to a venue in your area. You can check the current schedule at http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/ustour/tickets-and-schedule/. The "Phantom" tour is well worth the price and time, especially if you'd rather not make the trek to New York City.