By Daniel Skora
It’s the longest running musical on Broadway, 28 years and still counting. As of January 14th of this year, it’s notched 12,054 Broadway performances with audiences estimated at over 17 million people. In addition to the long-running Broadway production, there are currently several additional international productions, in London, Helsinki, Hamburg, Prague, Moscow, Budapest, and Sapporo. The current North American Tour has drawn rave reviews from critics with words like dazzling, extraordinary, and gorgeous. “The Phantom of the Opera” is all that and more and the North American Tour is currently at the Detroit Opera House as part of Broadway in Detroit’s 2016/17 Theatre Season.
This new production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster is one of the largest and most extravagant ever for a touring company. It has a cast and orchestra numbering 52. The production travels in 20 trucks filled with costumes and the show’s newly designed sets. Over 1,200 costume pieces are used during the show, and besides apparel, includes numerous wigs, moustaches, and beards used by the performers. The chandelier itself sparkles with over 6,000 beads and weighs over a ton, and yes, it still plummets into the audience during that dramatic scene where the Phantom manifests his powers. Dominating the main set is a wall that weighs over 10 tons and rotates around the stage to reveal the show’s other eye-catching sets. The show includes pyrotechnics, a newly designed Phantom’s lair, and all of the most advanced production capabilities currently available for theatrical presentations. Unchanged are the story, the beautiful score of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original music, and Charles Hart’s original lyrics.
The “Phantom’s” cast is headed by Derrick Davis, who is absolutely magnificent as The Phantom. Davis has significant acting and singing credits, playing Mufasa in Broadway’s “The Lion King”. Here his vocals range from the plaintive to the soaring, and his portrayal of the tortured Phantom captures all of the emotional turmoil in this most sympathetic of classical villains. Katie Travis as Christine and Jordan Craig as Raoul and the rest of the cast are superb. Trista Moldovan as Carlotta at one time starred in the role of Christine. Other principals include David Foley Jr. and Price Waldman as Messieurs Firmin and André, the new owners of the Opera house, Anne Kanengeiser as Madame Giry, the Opera’s ballet mistress, Emily Ramirez as her daughter Meg, and Phumzile Sojola as Ubaldo Piangi, the Opera’s principal tenor.
You may have to go to New York if you ever want to see a production of “The Phantom” as lush and as lavish as this one. “Phantom” fans will not be disappointed and those who have somehow escaped catching Phantom Fever will undoubtedly discover a new favorite.
“The Phantom of the Opera” is a Cameron Mackintosh production. The show runs through January 22nd. Tickets for this Broadway in Detroit presentation at the Detroit Opera House are on sale at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1.800.982.2787, online at www.BroadwayinDetroit.com or www.TicketMaster.com and Detroit Opera House and Fisher Theatre box offices. The Detroit Opera House is located at 1526 Broadway in Detroit.