Arts musical review

The Phantom lurking inside the Opera House

The timeless classic ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ storms into Boston for the show of a lifetime

The Phantom of the Opera

Directed By Laurence Conner

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics written by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe

Orchestration by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber

Boston Opera House

Running until Oct. 1

Loved by band geeks and theatre junkies alike, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera effortlessly combines mystery, suspense, romance, and emotional musical numbers all in one dark, harrowing tale.

Set in early 18th century Paris, France, this musical focuses on the talents of young Christine Daaé (Eva Tavares) and how both her beauty and singing ability draw in the disfigured Phantom (Derrick Davis) and childhood friend Raoul (Jordan Craig). Obsessed with Christine’s melodic voice, the Phantom constantly tries to draw her under his own spell of musical allure while maintaining his opera house. Meanwhile, Raoul aims to love Christine while protecting her from the manipulative Phantom. As this dynamic love triangle progresses, there is also a tense struggle between the opera house owners, Messieurs Firmin (David Benoit) and André (Edward Staudenmayer), and the Phantom. They don’t believe in his existence, but face constant punishment and ridicule at the hands of the Phantom whenever his demands aren’t met.

Story aside, there are many novel elements to the musical that leap out at the audience and break the traditional onstage limitation. The tech crew creates stunningly detailed set pieces that enhance the environment of the scenes and perfectly match the mood of each scene. The Phantom’s lair is dreary and poorly lit by candlelight. Dry ice, smoke and fog machines heighten the lair’s sense of eeriness. In contrast, the opera house owners’ office is brightly decorated with gaudy red walls, golden trim, and pretentious paintings.

However, the most interesting piece on stage is probably the revolving set itself. One moment, the stage is set for an opera put on by the musical’s opera house. Then within seconds, the stage revolves to appropriately show the steps to the docks and then spins slowly to match the progression of the characters’ boat ride over the lake to the Phantom’s lair. Personally, I don’t think either of us had ever seen such an innovative and practical set design, and it astounded us how well utilized it was throughout the musical.

Audience immersion is further encouraged by the engaging and dynamic cast. Drawing onlookers in with his powerful voice then succeeding to frighten them with his freakish nature, Derrick Davis plays a truly emotional and haunting Phantom. Despite his apathy towards murder, the Phantom is easily empathized with when he reveals his loneliness through lack of compassion from others, especially when Christine turns away after he confesses his love for her. You feel for the dejected person the Phantom is forced to be by way of his abnormality; yet you also feel for Christine as you watch her struggle between her love of Raoul and his normal, safe life and the Phantom and his stirring way with music.

Overall, the Broadway musical is a delight for all audience viewers; it brings modern elements to the art of theater and draws in the audience. Broadway makes sure that the musical doesn’t stay dormant in its 2D frame on stage; the cast and crew bring the musical to life with the notorious chandelier hung right over the audience, dialogues with the viewers, and acts among audience seating. The musical numbers and dynamic cast are also as memorable as ever and add to the neverending charm that is The Phantom of the Opera.

We highly recommend you attend the musical showing. The Phantom of the Opera is an enjoyment for all kinds of theater-goers (or non theater-goers) of all ages, backgrounds, and interests!