While the “music of the night” in The Phantom of the Opera tour sweeps away audience hearts and souls, it can’t quite sweep away the numerous distracting technical failures throughout this reimagined 1986 classic.
The leading cast carries the production with their flawless arias and heart wrenching dramatics. Katie Travis, as Christine Daaé, introduces the leading lady with a vocal brightness which contrasts the iconic work of predecessors Sarah Brightman and Sierra Boggess. While this may be initially jarring to long time fans, her naiveté in the role quickly endears audiences, and theatergoers are no longer watching a 30 year old story, but a fresh performance.
The Phantom, brilliantly brought to life by Derrick Davis, steals the show. He begins with the character’s notorious sensuality, leaving audience members swooning through “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Music of the Night”. Then, with a seemingly effortless switch, he becomes the possessive villain of the story, with chill-inducing physicality and vocal delivery.
Photo: Matthew Murphy
Despite these undeniably beautiful cast performances, Cameron Mackintosh’s The Phantom of the Opera is, simply put, messy. The new set, with designs by Paul Brown, is wondrous -- that is, if the actors can walk down it. As the Phantom commands a staircase out of a tower during the theme, both Davis’s and Travis’s performances are abruptly interrupted as they anxiously step down the precarious piece.
Photo: Alistair Muir
Adjusting the showstopper “Masquerade” is a risky move, and it doesn’t pay off. The costumes, by Maria Björnson, might as well have been pulled from a miscellaneous box. Nothing matches in the slightest, and while this may have be a stylistic choice, it gives the eye nowhere to focus and takes away from an iconic number. The most clashing of these is the tea-length piece worn by Christine, which resembles a modern figure skater’s ensemble. Additionally, Scott Ambler’s new choreography in this number is parochial and callow, making the Phantom’s control over Christine appear silly in contrast to a mature, full choral sound.
Throughout the performance, everything seems somewhat… off. The pre-programmed lighting and spot work is consistently ascance, ruining potentially stunning shadow illusions and leaving important moments in the dark. The pyrotechnics miss their subjects completely. The magical design of the Phantom’s final disappearance doesn’t hit its mark, making an awkward scene of the musical’s grand finale. Each of these things individually are to be expected of live theatre, but altogether, The Phantom of the Opera gives the impression of being a well-casted amature show, rather than a professional performance.
Although it has it’s highlights, the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera crumbles under the direction of Laurence Connor with Cameron Mackintosh’s adaptations.