“Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world,” as you sink into your seat at the Orpheum Theatre on December 13th. “Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before,” when you see the new production of Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. “Let your soul take you where you long to be,” which is blown away by the remarkable production.
The Phantom of the Opera is based on Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de L’Opéra, a story of a man with a disfigured face haunting the Paris Opera House in the late 19th century. As he lurks beneath the catacombs he exercises his reign of terror, fear and fright when all he seeks is to be loved. He finds some acceptance in a young girl, Christine, whom he teaches to be a star. His devotion to her stardom eventually leads to the terrorizing of the Opera House.
Mark Campbell was a haunting Phantom, as a talented actor he evoked feelings of sadness in his rendition of “Music of the Night,” and then feelings of lust in “Point of No Return.” And Christine, played by Julia Udine, showed her incredible vocal range with her melodic soprano notes in “the Phantom of the Opera.” Raoul, Christine’s childhood friend and love interest, was played by Ben Jacoby. As he was declaring his love for Christine and fighting for his life in the Phantom’s lair, there was room for development in character and voice.
The true star of the show was the production design team. With re-invented staging and a completely re-imagined scenic design, the set was marvelous. The circular stage performed multiple costume changes as it moved from the Opera House to the Phantom’s lair, and outside the Opera House to inside the dressing rooms. As the rounded set turned, a new scene would be unveiled. The intricacies of the stage were apparent as Christine was guided to the Phantom’s lair. Stairs magically appeared out of the spherical wall, fog floated above the sewer water, and candles hovered to steer the boat. Another personal favorite was the set for “Masquerade.” A set parallel to Versailles’s Hall of Mirrors; the stage was filled with cloudy mirrors, gold accents and lavish statues.
The costumes and music also receive a nod of approval. There was no imagination needed to envision the excessive costumes one would wear at the Paris Opera House, the satin and sequins glistened under the stage lights throughout the performance. A swirl of vibrant colors danced on the stage during the masquerade as each dress matched a male’s attire. Under the direction of Richard Carsey, the orchestra played an important role by setting the moods from gaudy Opera House performances to sentimental love songs.
The refreshing makeover of this timeless classic builds on the undying love for the haunting music of the night.