‘Phantom of the Opera’ leaves a long shadow

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Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s uber-hit “The Phantom of the Opera” is making a short stop at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre through Aug. 19, with reworked staging, sets and an expanded cast of 52 musicians and actors, making this one of the largest productions on tour in North America.

Quentin Oliver Lee as ‘The Phantom’ and Eva Tavares as ‘Christine
Daaé. Photo by Matthew Murphy’

Still in the show, of course, is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, Charles Hart’s and Richard Stilgoe’s lyrics that brought the world the memorable “All I Ask of You,” “Think of Me,” “The Point of No Return,” “Angel of Music,” “The Phantom of the Opera” theme song, and “The Music of the Night” in the musical retelling of Gaston Leroux’s novel “Le Fantôme de L’Opéra.” The show, and the novel it brings to the stage, follows the tale of a mysterious masked figure (masterfully played by Quentin Oliver Lee) who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House in 1911, only to bring terror to the patrons. But then he falls in love with a young soprano, Christine, (Eva Tavares) and turns his attention away from mere fright and toward making her a star at all costs.

Lee’s thunderous baritone voice commands the stage even when it whispers from behind the signature white mask. For her part, Tavares expertly adds layers of character with thrusts and releases like an angler reeling in a swordfish. The duo managed to bring nuanced turmoil and depth to a work that, well, was crafted by a man known for neither.

The Company performs “Hannibal” featuring Phumzile Sojola as
‘Ubaldo Piangi.’ Photo by Matthew Murphy

The set design for this touring show by Paul Brown was absolutely amazing and ranks among the most extensive and elaborate on record. Anchoring the set is a massive revolving turret that serves as everything from a tower to a set of magically appearing stairs into the bowels of the theater to even the “backstage operations” that provided seamless transitions. It was a living, breathing character of the show in its own right that might have only been rivaled by the Tony Award-winning original costume designs of Maria Björnson.

The tour’s production team also features choreography by Scott Ambler, lighting design by Tony Award-winner Paule Constable, sound design by Mick Potter, and musical supervision by John Rigby. Overall, the show has an air of being a production in which budget concerns never entered the discussion. Absolutely nothing seemed left out or underfunded.

MUSIC OF THE NIGHT Quentin Oliver Lee as ‘The Phantom’ and Eva Tavares as ‘Christine
Daaé.’ Photo by Matthew Murphy

Phantom opened in London’s West End in 1986, and debuted on Broadway two years later. It won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical. Broadway’s advance ticket sales amounted to a record-breaking $17 million. Phantom celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on Feb. 11, 2012, the first production ever to do so. By 2011, it had been seen by more than 130 million people in 145 cities across 27 countries, and continues to play in London and New York.

The Phantom of the Opera runs through Aug. 19 at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, with tickets starting at $35 and available at STGPresents.org, Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1 (800) 982-2787.

 

 

 

 

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