In most cases, when a “touring company” of a Braidway show hits Chicago, it is a smaller, condensed version with less “bells and whistles”. Most of us have seen many versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom Of The Opera” over the years, and its return to the Cadillac Palace , where it will continue through March 2nd is absolutely “Breathtaking”! A new set, some great pyrotechnics, new direction and a young, energetic cast makes this more than a “revival” of a musical that has been well traveled, but instead, a new re-birth of a musical that is a true theatrical experience!
From the overture on, we find ourselves intently into this love story about a deformed man, who wears a mask to hide his ugliness, who resides in the caverns and catacombs of the Paris Opera House, who has terrorized those working in the Opera House. He , himself a composer of sorts, who due to his looks was banished from the Opera House, finds himself falling in love with Christine Daa’e the enchanting Julia Udine). He devotes himself to making her a star as he nurtures her talents and uses his special talents to make her the main attraction.
In this new version, I found the story to be a little more solid as we see that Christine ( along with the audience) feels for this Phantom ( a powerful performance by Cooper Grodin, who does not have the pipes that some others playing this role have had, but has more emotion that the combined lot of players I have seen in this role. I cared about his sad and lonely life! Yes, I know that he is a killer and a tragic hero, but even Christine in her final scene with him shows some affection for the man who has trained him to be his “Angel of Music”.
As I said previously, this young cast is solid and energy levels are quite high. I was quite impressed with Ben Jacoby ( who many of us have seen over the past twelve months at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire- great voice), Jaquelynne Fontaine is a marvelous Carlotta and Messrs Firmin (Craig Bennett) and Andre (Edward Staudenmayer) are powerful as the new owners of the Opera House.
Directed by Laurence Conner and choreographed by Scott Ambler this is an amazingly fast 2 1/2 hour production, filled with wonderful music -“The Music Of The Night” “Masquerade”,”The Point Of No Return”, “Think of Me”, “The Phantom Of The Opera” and the list is endless. Each song brings meaning to the story that is being told and the lush rich voices of this cast make “The Music Of The Night” very special indeed!Oh,yes, the famous chandelier does drop and in this new version, explodes sending pieces ( or rubber,not glass) into the audience- a spectacular effect!
This sterling production will contiiue here at the Cadillas Palace Theatre located at 151 West Randolph Street ( at LaSalle) through March 2nd as part of The Broadway In Chicago series. The performance schedule is as follows:
Wednesdays 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $23-$115 and can be purchased at the box office ( or any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices), by calling the BroadwayInChicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets/locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com ( where you can also purchase discounted parking)
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Phantom Of The Opera”