"One of the best theatrical experiences possible" - Mike Woody reviews "The Phantom of the Opera".
Whether you have seen The Phantom of the Opera several times or never before, you will be thoroughly entertained and see something new. I went in blindly, without ever having seen the musical, or the movie, read the book, listened to the soundtrack, followed it on Twitter or anything. Meanwhile, my wife was hesitant about even going because she had seen so many previous productions. Actually, as with most things in life, my wife could probably do better than me on this review, because she can compare it to the original. I’ll try my best though, as a Phantom rookie, to give the show its deserved praise for being a theatrical masterpiece.
At the center of all the excellence is Quentin Oliver Lee as the Phantom. Both Lee’s physical presence and his powerful voice are captivating. To Lee’s credit, his superb vocals are as equally impressive as his non-verbal’s. His physical movements speak as clearly to the thousands in the audience as his deep booming voice, both displaying heartbreak and pain. Whenever the Phantom speaks, you listen, as Lee’s voice resonates through the theatre. I would be intent listening to Lee read a dictionary, but trust me, hearing him sing ‘The Music of the Night’ is one of life’s little luxuries….A game you can play during the show is ‘Where’s the Phantom?’ There are a number of scenes in which he lurks in the shadows. At least that’s what my wife told me at intermission when she asked if I’d noticed. It’d be easier if he wore a red and white striped shirt.
The Phantom is an iconic character, who I was familiar with despite me never having seen the show, but I was left wondering; where’s Christine been all my life? It’s almost a crime that Christine’s name isn’t also in the show’s title, because Eva Tavares is worthy of top billing with her beautiful voice. If nothing else, The Phantom has great taste in women. Tavares has a voice that almost makes the Phantom’s behavior explainable, plus she’s easy on the eyes too. With every song, Tavares shines, truly giving one of the most vocally impressive performances I’ve ever seen. Her solo rendition of ‘Wishing You Were Somewhere Here Again’ is emotionally riveting. I’m thankful to have finally met Christine, and she won’t be soon forgotten.
Again, I’m a Phantom newbie, but my wife raved about the modern updates that were made. It kept the show fresh and exciting for her. Even I can attest to the fact that all the sets are visually impressive, especially the steps that lead down towards the lair. Watch closely as they come and go at the blink of an eye. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the massive chandelier, especially if it’s hanging over your head.
Strong performances are also given by Raoul (Jordan Craig), who raises the Phantom’s ire by pursuing Christine. A fiery love triangle develops, and the audience feels the heat, literally. Other stand-outs are Firmin (David Benoit) & Andre (Edward Staudenmayer), who often provide a little comic relief. Another voice that leaps off the stage is Trista Moldovan’s, who plays Carlotta. The Phantom tries to make her sound like a frog, but Moldovan’s voice is more reminiscent of a nightingale.
I would not have been surprised if going to The Phantom of the Opera was a miserable (or Les Miserables) experience. I prefer musicals with more dialogue. When every major plot point is told just through song, I tend to get lost easily. Also, songs sang operatically tend to act as a sedative for me, especially if combined with ballet. However, I was able to understand most of the show and was enthralled by all of the music. Sleep was the farthest thing from my mind, and Christine (Tavares) turned me into an opera fan (at least as long as she’s singing).
The Phantom of the Opera is one of the best theatrical experiences possible. Don’t miss it, tickets still remain for performances at the Schuster Center through April 22…For the record, I checked with my wife, and she agrees.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.