Review: ‘Phantom’ at La Comedia Dinner Theatre

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Review: ‘Phantom’ at La Comedia Dinner Theatre

Review: ‘Phantom’ at La Comedia Dinner Theatre

‘Phantom’ is among the best shows I’ve ever seen at La Comedia - Mike Woody

Review: ‘Phantom’ at La Comedia Dinner Theatre

At times I’m guilty of hyperbole, where I exaggerate the positives (not about my wife though), but it’s with total honesty that I say ‘Phantom’ is among the best shows I’ve ever seen at La Comedia. Rather than just a ‘taste of Broadway’, it’s more like a full course meal…or a buffet of Broadway. The entire cast is top notch, with an impressive set and amazing voices. The shows storyline hits every emotion, including suspense, drama, comedy, and horror. I witnessed weeping and pure adulation within the audience (and my own table).

A common question is, is ‘Phantom’ the same as ‘The Phantom of the Opera?’ Not exactly. The connection between the two has the makings of its own show. Two lowly writers started composing a musical based on the novel ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ Their dreams of riches were dashed though when the renowned Andrew Lloyd Webber announced he was coming out with a musical called ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ Suddenly the financing for ‘The Phantom’ disappeared and any progression halted. However, after the success of Webber’s musical the duo decided that ‘The Phantom’ was different enough to stand on its own. While it never reached Broadway has still been performed all over the world. 

The Phantom himself was really ahead of his time with the wearing of a mask. He wore more masks in approximately 90 plus minutes, some finely decorated, than I wear in a week. He also mastered social distancing by not getting close to anyone. The Phantom lives deep below the Opera House, where he occasionally spreading fear. Though a villain, with a violent streak, the Phantom is impossible not to like.  You can’t help admire the brilliant performance by Matthew Wade. Wade’s voice is a gift to all who hear it. After his first song, my wife leaned over and whispered, ‘He’s good.’ Like always, she was right. 

Speaking of gifted voices, Christine’s (Lily Autumn Page) is equally astounding. It soars to levels of beauty that few have ever achieved. No wonder the Phantom was drawn to her heavenly sound as Page holds the power to soften a hardened heart. There’s much to enjoy about ‘The Phantom’ and Page’s voice alone is worth the price. The NFL needs to sign her up now for next year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

The Phantom doesn’t approve of the Opera Houses new owners; Carlotta (Linda Dew) and Cholet (John Downey), but I sure do, even of the flirtatious sounds they make to each other. They not only own the Opera House, but also all of their scenes. Though Downey’s character walks with a limp, he stands tall throughout his performance. Dew is radiant as the obnoxious diva. Carlotta is supposed to be a dreadful singer, but Dew’s greatness can’t be hidden.  

The previous owner of the Opera House is Carriere (Steven Lakes), whose involvement is dramatically revealed to be deeper than it appears. Lakes has a thunderous authoritative voice, highlighted by his narration of the phantom’s past. There’s a new Great Lakes added to the list, named Steven. 

The entire cast/ensemble is terrific. I’d wager it’s one of the finest ever assembled on the La Comedia stage, despite no Chris Kramer. In addition to the stunning performances, there’s also some special effects; a fiery blaze (sparkle), a crashing chandelier, and a young boy who miraculously shows up on stage from out of nowhere. 

‘Phantom’ is La Comedia at its finest. It truly is one of the best shows I have seen in recent memory. Credit to the director, Chris Beiser, and the entire cast and crew for putting together such a splendid production. ‘Phantom’ continues through April 3.