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The Phantom of the Opera

A musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Phantom of the Opera: See It While You Can!

  • Jan 14, 2004
  • by
Rating:
+3
Pros: special effects are amazing, awesome sets, romantic show, great songs

Cons: closing soon

The Bottom Line: This really is a fantastic show. I wouldn't recommend it to little kids, though. GREAT date show!

When you have friends that really know you, they really know what you like to do. I am fortunate enough to have someone close to me that knows me so incredibly well that he took me on my "dream date": tickets to see Phantom of the Opera, followed by dinner at Sardi’s. As you probably already know, I absolutely adored Sardi’s. What preceded it was one of the most breathtaking shows I’ve ever seen.

I am a theatre snob. I admit it. I love good theatre, and I really appreciate all of the work that goes into it. I know what it takes to put on a good production, much more what goes into a Broadway production. (And, one day, I hope to be involved in a Broadway show in some capacity.) Phantom of the Opera is an incredible production all-around.

In this review, I will address all of the aspects that I can think of regarding Phantom of the Opera. I highly doubt, however, that this review will even come close to doing this wonderful production justice.

The Plot
Going into this show, I had no idea what Phantom of the Opera was about. Okay, I take that back. I had some idea. I knew that it was about a phantom that haunted an opera house while shows were going on, and he fell in love with the primadonna, Christine. That’s all I knew. Believe me, there is SO much more to know when it comes to this play!

The entire show takes place in an opera house in France. The cast is in rehearsals for a show while the owner sells it to two other people. During this time, we are introduced to Christine Daea (pronounced Die – a), a chorus girl, as well as read a note from the Phantom. The cast knows about the Phantom, as does the original owner. The Phantom requests that his balcony box remain empty every performance and that he receives a monthly sum (about $20,000 francs) to leave the cast and production alone. The new owners don’t believe this and ignore his demands.

Carlota, the original primadonna, leaves the production and Christine, who has been studying under the Phantom (somehow—It is never explained), is made the new primadonna. During her opening performance, an old friend watches the show and recognizes her. Raul, the old friend, comes to Christine’s dressing room and expresses his romantic interest in her. The Phantom objects and steals Christine away to his lair beneath the opera house.

Christine returns to the opera after meeting the Phantom. Different events occur, that I will not spoil for you, and the Phantom insists that his own opera is performed on the stage. The owners agree, and casts how the Phantom wishes. In the meantime, Raul and Christine fall deeper and deeper in love. They become engaged, but Christine doesn’t wear a ring because she is afraid of the Phantom. Raul and others decide that Christine follow the demands set forth by the Phantom so that they could catch him.

And that’s about it. You know how much I hate writing plots in my reviews. However, I think that a review of this production is contingent on the plot, as there are so many technical aspects that have to do with the story line.

The Actors
Hugh Panaro is absolutely AMAZING as the Phantom. Hearing him sing "Music of the Night" absolutely brought tears to my eyes. It is one thing to hear it sung on a CD, and entirely different when you hear it in person. He was wonderful. He absolutely MADE the production. I couldn’t imagine anyone doing it better.

Truth be told, none of the other actors really stood out, especially when compared to Panaro. Therefore, I don’t think it would be fair to give anyone else a special mention. As a whole, they all worked well together. The company numbers, especially "Masquerade" (at the beginning of Act II), were fabulous. The solos and duets, not taking Panaro into account, were sort of lacking.

The Special Effects
Special effects? In a musical?? Abso-frickin-litely!! The special effects in Phantom of the Opera were pretty impressive, too. At the very beginning of the show, there is a chandelier on stage. Suddenly, the chandelier bursts into light. It scared the heck out of me, but it was so cool! I was thoroughly disappointed when the chandelier didn’t crash in such a fashion at the end of Act I, and just trailed down onto the stage. It could have been much more dramatic.

The coolest special effects had to do, of course, with the phantom. I don’t know if you would exactly call them "special effects" as you would call them illusions. On several occasions throughout the play, the Phantom appears out of nowhere. It really is amazing. It’s as though a statue comes to life when Christine is in the graveyard. The Phantom also disappears quite a bit. At the very end of the show, The Phantom seems to disappear into thin air.

The lighting helps quite a bit, too. Blue lights are used during the fog, and casts a very eerie feel throughout the entire theatre. At the end of the show, Meg Giry finds the Phantom’s mask and holds it up. At that point, the white mask is illuminated by a single ray of light (probably from a small lico, for you theatre geeks like me), and it appears to be floating on the stage.

There are tons of trap doors all over the stage, which makes for very interesting entrances and exits. At one point, Raul jumps off a bridge and seemingly goes straight through the floor. I was shocked that he didn’t stop, a la Les Miserables when Javert commits suicide during "Stars." My friend leaned over to me and whispered incredulously, "How did they do that?" At least, I think it was through a trap.

The most incredible effect, in my humble opinion, was when the Phantom rowed his boat through the underbelly of the theatre. Fog appeared everywhere, and it really looked like the boat was being rowed through some sort of underground river. Lights came up through the floor, giving the stage even more depth.

I was quite impressed with the special effects of Phantom of the Opera. I truly didn’t know what to expect when I went to see this show. Some of the special effects were jaw-dropping.

The Sets
As you can imagine, the sets for Phantom of the Opera were stunning and intricate. No detail was left out. The carvings on the podiums, statues and balconies were gorgeous. The dressing room and backstage area was so true to a real theatre. The rooftop really made you think that Christine and Raul were on a rooftop in France.

During the scenes in the Phantom’s lair, cage-like walls came down to keep other people out while the Phantom (and Christine) remained in. I was expecting to see some sort of pipe organ (as did the person I went with), but there was no such thing. It appeared almost as though the Phantom was playing a keyboard! That is the ONLY thing I would have changed about the set: Give the Phantom a pipe organ.

The set changes were very fast, too. The audience was never kept waiting, which is always a good thing. The execution of set and lighting changes was absolutely flawless. This seemed to be a technically perfect show…

Miscellaneous
…Except for the sound system. My friend and I sat in the 18th row, to the left of the stage. We were in the orchestra seats. At the very beginning of the show, it was quite difficult for us to hear what was going on. I don’t know if it was a speaker problem or a problem with the mics, but it was fixed about 15 minutes into the show.

If you sit in the 15th row or higher, you’re not going to be able to see the chandelier crash down from its original position, nor will you be able to see the Phantom rise all the way up from its starting position. Honestly, it’s not a big deal. You get the general idea, and it is not essential to the show.

Tickets are $100 a piece, not including any tax and/or service charges. Believe me, it is WORTH it. Unfortunately, I heard that Phantom of the Opera is going to close soon. GO and see it while you can. It’s a wonderful, romantic show.




Recommended:
Yes

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More The Phantom of the Opera reviews
Quick Tip by . August 04, 2010
posted in Music Matters
I saw Phantom last summer on Broadway. Great story, pretty incredible effects.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
One of my favorite musicals of all time. SO moving -- a total classic. If you haven't seen it, you must!
review by . June 12, 2009
I thought about this recently when there was a documentary on the Ovation Channel (yes, apparently there is one), recalling the difficulties of its production due to the personalities involved. When Phantom was released in London in the 80s, musicals were at their all-time height of popularity. People were getting in line overnight, camping outside the theater and fighting over tickets. Performers were like the rock stars of their time, and almost every new musical was enthusiastically promoted …
review by . January 14, 2004
Pros: special effects are amazing, awesome sets, romantic show, great songs     Cons: closing soon     The Bottom Line: This really is a fantastic show. I wouldn't recommend it to little kids, though. GREAT date show!     When you have friends that really know you, they really know what you like to do. I am fortunate enough to have someone close to me that knows me so incredibly well that he took me on my "dream date": tickets to see Phantom …
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Candice Cain ()
Ranked #91
I own the Candy Cain Travel Co. in Brookhaven, NY. I am a certified Professional Bridal Consultant with the Association of Bridal Consultants and my agency is certified by IATA and CLIA. I specialize … more
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Winner of seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterwork is a timeless story of seduction and despair. Set at the Paris opera house, a beautiful soprano becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius.

http://www.cheaptheatretickets.com/phantom-of-the-opera/ - All the info you need on The Phantom of the Opera including reviews, cast info and tickets.

http://www.phantomoftheoperalondon.com/ - Details on the London production of The Phantom of the Opera. Find videos, reviews, cast info and a history of the show.
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