Saturday, August 18, 2018

New "Phantom" Lives up to reputation

(courtesy The Phantom of the Opera tour)
The Phantom of the Opera
Paramount Theatre
Through August 19, 2018

Well, guess what! I liked the musical The Phantom of the Opera a bunch more than I expected to. See my preview at (What kind of critic, you grumble, uses the phrase “a bunch more”?) Truly, the famous songs that have become popular from this musical, particularly The Music of the Night, and The Phantom of the Opera, made me feel like running away instead of marking my calendar for productions to see.

This touring production is quite honestly very lavish and attentive to making a great experience for an audience. It’s opulent to look at when it needs to be and dark and mysterious, too. The folding and unfolding set works beautifully to change locations. The falling chandelier is not really all that scary (it doesn’t fall that fast), but it’s really pretty.

One aspect that definitely delighted me was how campy funny some of the moments in the musical are – at least in this production. There are two scenes in the production office of the opera company where the characters all produce notes written to them by the Phantom, as he threatens them variously to pay him or else, or let Christine sing or else, or various other demands or else. It’s clear that they know it’s a joke and make the most of the moment. It got big laughs from the audience.

The river scenes were a bit tortured, as far as believing it was a big long river, but not terrible. However, the scene where Raoul has to find his way alone to the Phantom’s underground lair to save Christine was just completely not credible, unless there is only one way to get to the lair and it’s not very far, even if you don’t have a boat….

The night I saw the production, Emma Grimsley replaced Eva Tavares as Christine and did a great job. I could not tell that she was in any way an understudy! Quentin Oliver Lee was a great choice for the Phantom, with a smooth, powerful voice and he’s a large person, so he seems very compelling as a commanding personality.

As far as the love triangle, the story/script is not believable as far as why anyone is in love with anyone else, with the exception of Christine having both a reverence for her phantom tutor (before she knows it’s the Phantom) and being compelled magically to feel attraction for him. Why the Phantom has become obsessed with Christine is one of those “things” you just have to accept. The heart wants what it wants, I guess.

As for why Christine glombs onto Raoul, well, there just is not enough script given to explain that. They knew each other as teens. Ok. And? The heart wants what it wants, I guess.

The Phantom, in the meanwhile, has likely morphed with society’s cultural expectations from a “poor man” who is lonely and desperately insecure from being deformed, into a real monster who only peripherally cares about who he hurts. Certainly, if anyone ever wanted him to end up with Christine, that’s likely no longer possible.

And in fact, that makes the horrendous sequel, Love Never Dies, that came through Seattle recently, even more awful. Just kill that one dead.

The supporting characters, particularly Jacquelynne Fontaine as Carlotta, and Phumzile Sojola as Ubaldo Piangi, who were both terrific singers and also funny, and David Benoit as Monsieur Firmin, and Edward Staudenmayer as Monsieur Andre, who were pompous and funny, were top notch in their talent.

If you love Phantom, you’ll probably be very happy with this production. If you have never seen it, I can recommend it as a spectacle with some terrific singing.

For tickets, go to

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