The Phantom of the Opera remains as powerful as the first time round

Reviewed by Iris Winston

 

 

 

 

Photo Alastair Muir.

Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, Book by Andreaw Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux A Broadway Across Canada presentation of a Cameron Mackintosh production, in association with the Really Useful Group.

In the three decades since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical began breaking records in terms of box office receipts, audience numbers, awards and longevity — Phantom officially became Broadway’s longest-running showing when it topped 100,000 performances in 2012 — the show has thrilled millions around the globe.

Even if you were one of those millions who saw the show when it first opened in London’s West End in 1986, on Broadway in 1988 or in Toronto in 1989, the excitement engendered by Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of the gothic romance, complete with a collection of new special effects and pyrotechnics, remains as powerful as the spectacular first time around.

The good news is that such key aspects as the late Maria Björnson’s costume designs have been retained. As for the set, the infamous chandelier and the gondola in the Phantom’s subterranean lair are still there. There are some interesting additions, such as the magically appearing steps into the Phantom’s cavern and the clever use of the central cylinder to change scene locations.

There is some difference in approach in downplaying the archetype and attempting to insert greater realism. While this is not always successful, the fine performances of the three leads in the Broadway Across Canada production currently at the NAC deliver all the humanity needed to balance the spectacle.

In the title role, Derrick Davis delivers a beautifully sung characterization, injected with pathos. It is easy to understand why Christine, the ingénue singer who is his obsession, overcomes her revulsion at his grotesque appearance and reaches out to him.

As Christine, Eva Tavares charms both through her performance and her soaring singing voice. As her suitor, Raoul, Jordan Craig fills the third point of the triangle quite effectively as a singer but fades before the power of Davis’ mesmerizing delivery.

Among the other members of the 50-plus cast, Trista Moldovan is both funny and effective as the diva in Webber’s send-up of grand opera tradition and Kristie Dale Sanders delivers workmanlike presentation of ballet mistress Madame Giry.

The production is at its strongest during solos and duets and at its weakest in the group scenes when poor diction and unnecessarily loud music drown out lyrics and spoken words. It is a good thing that audiences are so familiar with the tale and many of the songs that they fill in the gaps. It seems that for 30 years, the phantom of the opera has been there inside each audience member’s mind.

The BAC production of The Phantom of the Opera continues at the National Arts Centre to October 29.

Reviewed by Iris  Winston.  Photo by Alastair Muir

Director: Laurence Connor

Musical director: Jamie Johns

Choreographer: Scott Ambler

Set: Paul Brown

Sound: Mick Potter

Lighting: Paule Constable

Video and projections: Nina Dunn

Costumes: Maria Björnson

 

Cast:

Phantom………………………………………Derrick Davis

Christine………………………………………Eva Tavares

Raoul………………………………………….Jordan Craig

Carlotta……………………………………….Trista Moldovan

  1. Firmin……………………………………..David Benoit
  2. André……………………………………..Edward Staudenmayer

Mme. Giry……………………………………Kristie Dale Sanders

Ubaldo Piangi………………………………..Phumzile Sojola.

Meg Giry…………………………………….Emily Ramirez

Auctioneer……………………………………Mark Emerson/ Edward Juvier

Porter…………………………………………Constantine Pappas

  1. LeFevre et al………………………………Jay Lusteck/Edward Juvier/Dan Debenport
  2. Reyer………………………………………Robert Anthony Jones

Joseph Buquet…………………………………Victor Wallace

Wardrobe mistress…………………………….Tynan Davis

Princess………………………………………..Jordan Ensign. Emma Grimsley

Wild woman…………………………………..Sarah Mossman

Slave master…………………………………..Ted Keener/Adam Rogers

  1. Firmin……………………………………..Carmen Vass

Jeweler………………………………………..Stephen Mitchell Brown

Hairdresser……………………………………Travis Taylor

Don Attilio…………………………………….Adam Bashian

Policeman……………………………………..Herb Porter

Ballet chorus: McKenna Birmingham, Julie Eicher, Daniela Filippone, Abigail Mentzer, Kate Anne Mueller, Ally Taylor Sacks

Swings: Daniella Dalli, Dan Debenport, Sarah DeBiase, Edward Juvier, Adryan Moorefield (assistant dance captain), Lily Rose Peck (dance captain), Jessica Wagner

 

Orchestra:

Director………………………………………Jamie Johns

Assist director/conductor……………………Ruth Kwan

Violin……………………………………….Garry Ianco, Maria Nenoiu, Jean Hee Lee

Keyboards………………………………Michael Duff, Elaine Davidson, Timothy Splain

Reeds……………………Mike Tremblay, Mike Mullin, Shauna McDonald, Ben Glossop

Horn…………………………………………Nigel Bell

Cello…………………………………………Peter Rapson

Viola…………………………………………Sarah Ross

Bass………………………………………….Be de Toit


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