The Pantages through July 7
By LAUREL BUSBY
For spectacle and beautifully haunting music, there is nothing quite like The Phantom of the Opera.
The new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway hit, which plays until July 7 at the Pantages, is designed to thrill and delight, and it succeeds. Compared to the film, it is lighter with humor sprinkled throughout, and the characterizations are a little bit coarser. Thus the luminous innocence of the heroine, Christine Daaé (Eva Tavares), in both the film and reportedly the original Broadway production, is not quite same.
Still, the Cameron Mackintosh production soars. The sets, costumes, and music are extravagant and continually enchanting. The theatrical effects, which include fire, gunshots, and a dangerous chandelier, often provoke surprised reactions from the audience.
The short operatic vignettes are fun to watch and played to the campy hilt, while the creepy Phantom’s violent tendencies keep the players on edge. The singing, particularly of Derrick Davis as the Phantom, is sublime, and Webber’s music, conducted by Jamie Johns with lyrics by Charles Hart, will likely haunt you for days after the show.
It’s a big Broadway spectacle with everything that entails, and the Pantages is the ideal L.A. theater to house such a production. The old-time splendor of the Pantages provides a perfect backdrop for the story of a historic opera house occupied by a disfigured madman. One can almost imagine that the Pantages is the home of the Phantom as he whooshes into the scene to both torment and mesmerize Christine.
Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, the show, written by Richard Stilgoe and Webber, features Jordan Craig as Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, Christine’s true love. The ensemble has strong performances throughout, including Trista Moldavan as Carlotta Giudicelli, Christine’s rival singer, and Monsieurs Firmin and André (David Benoit and Rob Lindley), the new theater owners.
Approximately 20 trucks were required to bring the elaborate sets and costumes to the Pantages, and before they drive to another city, catch the show. There’s a reason that The Phantom of the Opera has spent more than 30 years on Broadway, becoming its longest-running show by a wide margin.