Monday, August 13, 2018

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Event Review - 8/10/18

The Phantom Of The Opera

Paramount Theatre
Seattle, WA

(show runs through Sunday 8/19) 

(Photo:  Matthew Murphy)


There are certain musicals that everyone is familiar with - if not the show, at least the name. The Phantom Of The Opera conjures up images of the various films, books, songs (both from the musical and otherwise), the mask, etc. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version has broken records over the years and is considered a benchmark in the new era of musical theatre.

For this reviewer, the show will always have a soft spot, as it was the first musical I ever witnessed. I have now seen the production four different times, amateur status compared to old guard theatre goers, and each time has left me with a different impression.

Friday evening the new production that was rolled out a handful of years ago returned to Seattle to bedazzle and awaken imagination as only The Phantom Of The Opera can.

Directed by Laurence Connor, the new production has its hits and a few near misses. The character of The Phantom is more menacing in his pursuit of young Christine Daae'. The romantic love triangle between The Phantom, Christine, and Raoul, is dialed down a notch as well.

The set design has changed from the original production (that is still running in New York and London) - particularly The Phantom's lair and the set for Act II opener, "Masquerade". But, depending on how much you loved the original, you may accept this new production for what it is. I for one enjoyed aspects of both productions - the stairs down to the lair magically appearing during the title number was perfection. But I miss the candelabras rising from the depths I must admit.

I won't go over the story details - either you already know the story or you can go see a performance this week and see for yourself.

The roles of The Phantom, Christine Daae', and Raoul, are iconic at this stage of the game which means they are the most scrutinized. Playing The Phantom on this current leg of the U.S. tour is Mr. Quentin Oliver Lee. An imposing figure at 6'8", Mr. Lee brings a new freshness to the role. His voice is commanding and makes the patron perk up a bit more every time he appears. He added a few inflections and nuances that broke the character open a bit more than in past incarnations. I felt Mr. Lee was a welcome addition to The Phantom role and certainly held his own against any of the past performers (and that's saying something).

Mr. Lee's Phantom character had moderate chemistry with Christine Daae', played by Ms. Eva Tavares. Eva's soprano is crystal clear and a perfect edition to the pantheon of performers that precedes her in the iconic role. Ms. Tavares portrays Christine with innocence and unfocused talent, which is always needed for the audience to believe her struggle between The Phantom and her suitor Raoul. During Act II, The Phantom and Christine really took the audience to another level, another place, which was wonderful to behold. Bravo to both Mr. Lee and Ms. Tavares for their performances.

The chemistry was lacking a bit between Christine and Raoul for this reviewer. Raoul, played by Mr. Jordan Craig, hit his marks as a professional but the emotional pull where the audience gets caught up in the storyline wasn't as strong as it could have been. I also believe Mr. Craig can deliver the characters signature song, "All I Ask Of You" with more joy and passion. Let it be known how Raoul feels about Christine (sing it from the roof tops so to speak). Make the audience swoon with delight that the characters are now a couple in endless love and The Phantom is heartbroken and angry about this revelation. As a professional performer in a touring production of one of the most well known musicals ever, Mr. Craig certainly has the background to play the role. I just feel there's room for some improvement to go from a good performance to a great one. That's all.

By the end of Act II the finale was hitting it's marks in almost every category. The Phantom disappears into the night, leaving the authorities to wonder where he vanished off to. I still prefer the original ending of the show but the new ending works moderately well, too.

The sound design (complete with multiple speakers for the surround sound aspect) and orchestra members (touring and local) sounded fantastic. The costumes were exactly what you would expect from this show - top notch.

Of course the chandelier is the signature piece from the show. It illuminated, it swayed, it fell, but most of all it captured the audiences attention which means job well done. It looked absolutely amazing.

The ensemble of performers was professional and well rehearsed as they maneuvered in and around the sets that continually fascinated me every time they changed. And they changed constantly throughout the over two hour production.

Overall if you've seen The Phantom Of The Opera before, you will leave the show satisfied. You may nitpick a few things like I did but those things will not distract you enough from the overall production you just witnessed. If you haven't seen the show before, in any incarnation, I believe you will be stunned and delighted by what you see and hear. The Phantom Of The Opera makes for a great first time musical theatre experience. Its longevity on Broadway speaks to its power to mesmerize audiences.

So fellow patrons - venture down to the Paramount Theatre this week and be transported to a world that you've never lived before.

See you at the theatre,
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Julie for the credentials - as always thank you so much for the opportunity! I appreciate it!

The show runs through Sunday August 19th with great seats still available. 



Behind the scenes and cast interviews video: 

(Photo:  Matthew Murphy)

 (Photo:  Matthew Murphy)

 (Photo:  Matthew Murphy)

 (Photo:  Alastair Muir)

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