‘Phantom’ lands in Denver with strong cast
Denver, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado “-“Phantom of the Opera” starts calmly enough, with theatre patrons attending an auction at the defunct Paris Opera House. But, when the organ riff begins loudly and starts to travel down the scale, I get goose bumps and start to tear up ” each and every time I see it. This time, I wasn’t alone. After having to nudge my husband awake several times during a Phantom production in November 2005 ” also at the Denver Center ” I decided that my 24-year old daughter might better appreciate this amazing production. She has, after all, tolerated and later even enjoyed my almost continuous playing of the complete soundtrack, since she was about 2 years old.
There was such an air of excitement and anticipation within the theater, more intense than what I’ve experienced in most other shows, and with good reason. In January 2006, “Phantom” became the longest running musical in Broadway history, surpassing the previous record holder, “Cats.” And, in January 2008, “Phantom of the Opera” became the first Broadway production to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Coloradans are extremely fortunate to be included in the world tour of this show.
Most people are familiar with the story behind “The Phantom of the Opera,” written by Gaston Leroux in 1910. The Phantom has gone a little bit crazy because of a lifetime of rejection and isolation. Living in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House, he falls in love with his young, beautiful protege (Christine Daae), and helps to pave the way for the advancement of her musical career by removing obstacles that are standing in the way of her potential success. She is torn between obligation and admiration of her teacher, and a budding romance with her childhood friend, Raoul.
The music in this production is absolutely breathtaking. All of the performers are outstanding with their given parts, although my very favorite was John Cudia, in the title role. He was actually the Phantom on Broadway, prior to joining the national tour. His voice was beautiful “I wanted to simply close my eyes and listen to him sing all evening. During the title song, the harmony created by John and Trista Moldovan, as Christine, was incredible.
My daughter enjoyed the flamboyant and humorous portrayal of Carlotta, played by Kim Stengel. In fact, this entire production seemed to incorporate more humor than any I’ve seen. It created a sense of fun and the absurd that served to enhance this already beautiful show.
My daughter was also entranced by the musical number, “Masquerade.” With the lighting, the makeup and the choreography, the scene was truly a thing of beauty. It also included some of the most elaborate and stunning costumes I’ve ever seen in any production.
I was a little disappointed in what is normally my favorite song. Scene 7, with “The Point of No Return” seemed to be missing some of the sizzle, connection and general “hotness” that I’ve seen between the two main characters in the past. It may have been the shroud under which the the Phantom wore, or his almost defeated and fearful posture. At that point, he should be proud and a bit cocky that his plans are coming to fruition. The self-doubt comes a little later, when the song changes, and he’s asking her to stay with him. Or, maybe, it was just the fact that it was opening night, but it seemed lower energy than much of the rest of the play.
This was my daughter’s first major theatre event, and I feared she may be ruined for many future productions. With “The Phantom of the Opera,” the bar has been set so high that other shows may pale in comparison. It was a very gratifying experience to hear her laughing, crying and fully engaging in this show.
Overall, this is a sad and beautiful production that moves me to tears every time I see it. My heart breaks for the Phantom, and I wish, just once, that Christine would choose to stay with him. I will just have to keep going to see this show until that day occurs.
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What: “Phantom of the Opera,” tragic musical
Where: Buell Theatre at the Denver Center
When: Through March 22
Tickets: $20 and up
More information: Visit http://www.denvercenter.org or call 800-641-1222