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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: The Phantom of the Opera is here, and it’s good

    Victoria Pereira

    The “Phantom” crew makes sure the chandelier is ready for the show Thursday, Oct. 22. In this production of the show, the chandelier is equipped with pyrotechnics and is able to move, giving the show a new feel and making the chandelier a character in itself.

    I am no virgin to “The Phantom of the Opera.”

    I have seen the 2004 film, the recording of the 25th anniversary celebration and I’ve heard at least three different cast recordings in the process — from the original Broadway, film and 25th anniversary casts. Until Friday night, though, I had failed to see Phantom live.

    The commercials for Broadway in Tucson’s production bragged that Christina Aguilera’s finalist from “The Voice,” Chris Mann, would be performing the titular character, so I was somewhat disappointed when I received my playbill adorned by the infamous slip informing me an understudy would perform in Mann’s place that evening.

    Travis Taylor proved me wrong. He is perhaps my favorite Phantom thus far. Not only was Taylor’s voice beautiful, but his acting made me fall in love with “The Phantom of the Opera” all over again.

    In recent years, the Phantom character has been sold as a romantic, rather than as the stalker that was initially portrayed in Gaston Leroux’s novel. Taylor managed to resell me on this theory.

    Every move he made was carefully calculated. There were times when every step Taylor took across the stage appeared to have a specific purpose.

    Even the scenes that weren’t so calculated still drew the viewer in; for example, when the Phantom lost his temper with object of obsession Christine Daaé and flew into a rage, or when he held her on the bed as he convinced her to join him for all eternity as his bride.

    Every interaction Taylor’s Phantom had with his ingénue convinced the viewer that he was very much in love with this girl.

    Taylor’s acting was assisted toward this goal by a few significant changes to the show that distinguished it from the 25th anniversary production, which was filmed in London.

    One of the more disturbing aspects of the show — the mannequin of Christine dressed as the Phantom’s bride — was eliminated from this version completely. No longer does the Phantom present the soprano to her own visage, causing Christine to faint in his arms.

    Another major change was the costuming of the Phantom himself. The costumes in this production seemed to be a salute to the film, again working to make the Phantom seem seductive.

    The Phantom also no longer sports a bulky puppetry of a skeleton used in previous shows. Instead, he wore a well-fitted red ensemble which made a point of showing that he is capable of being physically beautiful.

    As for the other characters: for the first time in my history of viewing “Phantom,” I enjoyed the character of Raoul. Storm Lineberger managed to stray from Raoul’s traditional characterization, in which he simply coddles Christine and treats her as though she may break at any moment. When Christine informs Raoul their engagement must be secret, he actually snaps at her.

    In regards to Christine, Katie Travis has a beautiful voice; kudos to her for managing to hit some of the more difficult notes of the show. However, her acting was subpar. I felt nothing for Christine; she did not even manage to make me fear for her.

    A stand-out of the evening was Jacquelynne Fontaine as Carlotta. She dominated the stage well, as the character is supposed to. Fontaine’s portrayal was not as grating as most, and she made sure that the audience knew who the prima donna was.

    I have no idea what I might have thought of the show had Chris Mann performed. I simply know that anyone looking to experience a great Phantom performance should hope his understudy Travis Taylor takes the stage that night.

    Follow Ariella Noth on Twitter.

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