It has been 30 years since The Phantom of the Opera won the Tony Award for Best Musical, but it continues to wow audiences with the national touring production which is now performing at DPAC with shows through this Sunday, March 11th. I went to see it last week after having last seen the production more than 15 years ago on Broadway. I found it to be a wonderful production with an outstanding cast, revamped sets, and of course filled with all of the classic songs we have all grown to love.
Phantom is the longest-running Broadway musical in history. But even if you have seen the show before the touring production is totally worth experiencing. All of the classic songs are still part of this amazing production, but the sets, staging and the overall feel of the show have all been updated making it a new and exciting experience. So even if you know the story… you are still in for a treat!
Leading up to the show I got a special sneak peek at the famous chandelier and had a chance to speak to the stage manager about the sets and the amazing costumes created by Tony Award winning costume designer Maria Bjornson. I was also honored to get a chance to talk to leading man Quentin Oliver Lee!
Standing at 6′ 8″ Lee is a formidable presence as the Phantom and delivers a powerful performance as the disfigured musical savant who lives in the sewers and oversees and rules over the the performers and managers of the Paris Opera House, all the while longing for love to ease his pain from years of isolation.
Lee also does a wonderful job of bringing a sense of humanity to the Phantom, and makes the character vulnerable and somewhat of a sympathetic figure. So much so that by the end of the show you feel a bit sorry for him and the life he has had to endure.
With such a great cast at the helm, the beautiful songs and the shows score truly shine in this performance. Eva Tavares delivers an wonderful performance as soprano Christine Daae’, who initially starts as one of the many girls in the chorus at the Paris theater but is picked to fill in the lead role of their production of Hannibal after the shows leading lady and diva, Carlotta Giudicelli, played by the talented Trista Moldovan, refuses to perform after the famous chandelier incident and the specter of the Phantom’s wrath spooks the show’s cast.
In her new found role as the lead Christine is secretly mentored by the Phantom during nighttime voice and music lessons as he molds here into a star. But the Phantom has a dark and demanding side and things turn a bit scary when Christine’s handsome childhood friend Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, played by the dashing Jordan Craig, enters the picture and makes the Phantom jealous.
With such a large cast (topping out at 52) there are some awe-inspiring scenes throughout the show where much of the ensemble is on stage dancing together in amazing numbers that include some beautiful ballet. It is during these amazing scenes the dancers really get to shine center stage and show off their talent.
There are several tweaks to the shows sets and new technology adding a little flash to the production giving it a fresh look without distracting from the beauty of the story and the performance. The skillfully executed staging and lighting do a wonderful job of setting the mood and make you feel like you are getting an intimate look at the opera house and its ornate design. Equally impressive is The Phantom’s dark lair in mysterious basement hidden below the theater.
The tale of The Phantom is that of timeless human experience. Filled with love, longing, and beautiful songs and staging it is now wonder why this show has audiences still flocking to see it after three decades.
This national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera is currently playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through March 11th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/phantom-of-the-opera-1