REVIEW: Phantom of the Opera

The Andrew Lloyd Weber spectacular is playing now at the Aronoff Center.  Seeing THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA  is a theatre rite-of-passage, though it’s interesting how many folks I’ve talked to have never experienced the grandeur of this musical.  I’ve seen it twice now, both times its toured through Cincinnati in the last several years, and the illusions, special effects, and larger-than-life production qualities make it a repeatable experience for many.

But don’t be fooled; the best feature of the show does not involve the giant chandelier (though that element is impressive).  For me, the amazement lies in the actors abilities to sing this extraordinarily difficult score night after night with such high quality.

For those unfamiliar with the story, let’s recap.  A historic opera house has been sold to two new investors.  They learn quickly that even though they own the place, they are expected to comply with the demands of the original O.G. (“Opera Ghost.”). He has his eye on a young chorus member, Christine, and among his many requests is that she be featured in the opera.  The owners don’t like the idea of taking orders from a phantom; more significantly is that Christine is torn between her attraction to the mysterious beast and her feelings for a returning flame, Raoul.

My mother asked me today how I enjoyed “Beauty and the Beast;” it was a slip of the tongue, but an understandable one given the subject matter.

I will confess that while I appreciated the technical magnificence again this time around, the show did drag in places.  I appreciate the opera in the same way I do Shakespeare (meaning that I know I’m supposed to like it but actually don’t and am losing my shame about that every day.) As musicals go, this one is of course opera-themed and therefore a little difficult for me to digest.  The pacing felt sluggish and my mind wandered from time to time.

But the vocal performances!  Derrick Davis as the Phantom, Katie Travis as Christine, and Jordan Craig as Raoul all shine throughout the performance.  The ensemble chorus of “Masquerade” is also a highlight, with powerful singing and delightful visuals.  All of the big moments deliver and there was definite chemistry between the leads.

Overall, I recommend the show.  It’s a high quality, top level professional production and worth seeing, especially if you never have.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA runs through November 27th at the Aronoff Center in Downtown Cincinnati.  Click here to get tickets.