How did that even happen? This was the question that I was asking myself all night at Cameron Mackintosh’s new run of Phantom of the Opera. The production of Phantom of the Opera very appropriately opened on Friday December 13th, at the Orpheum, and runs through January 5. This well loved classic follows the story of Christine Daaé (Julia Udine), a background dancer who is thrust into a lead role when the star of the opera, Carlotta Guidicelli (Jacquelynne Fontaine), is unable to perform. After a stellar performance, Daaé becomes the star of a haunted opera. The opera house is haunted by the angel of music, who has very specific plans for Daaé and the opera house which does not include Raoul (Ben Jacoby), a new patron of the opera house and a love interest of Daaé’s.
All of the performances were solid, the most notable being that of Udine. She was consistently strong in both her acting and especially her singing. The dancing was also nice, my personal favorite being the masquerade. However, the performances were merely supporting roles compared to the set.
The question of the night really was how did that even happen? This question focused around technical elements. The first was the revolving circular column that made up most of the set. This thing spun, opened, closed and magically produced stairs at the wave of the Phantom’s hand. Entire sets would just appear to perfectly accent every scene. How did that even happen? The running color scheme of red and gold along with the constant glittering of gowns and jewels perfectly articulated the opera feel.
Can we just talk about the flames. The warnings in the lobby about the use of pyrotechnics did not even begin to cover it. This show includes reactive candles, flame attacks and, at one point, the entire front of the stage is on fire. The flames are amazing and they once again lead me to ask how did that even happen?
The one negative thing about the set was unfortunately the chandelier. It was ugly. And the fact that the first scene includes a big reveal just emphasized the disappointing nature of this rather important prop. This chandelier, locked in the shadow of its bigger, brighter, and better old brother that was the actual chandelier at the Orpheum was the only disappointment in the production. Creating an amazing and functional chandelier may seem impossible, but in a show where the theme was how did that even happen, I expected a little more.
Overall this show is awe-inspiring. There are elements of the set that I still could not tell you how they were accomplished. The story was strong and the production let the audience into the world that is the Phantom of the Opera. This show is transporting and I would recommend that you do whatever needs to be done in order to get yourself a ticket.