THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERAThe New Production by Cameron Mackintosh
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Charles Hart
Based on the books by Richard Stilgoe & Andrew Lloyd Webber
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Director: Laurence Connor
Choreographer: Scott Ambler
Producers: Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Theatre Company, NETworks Presentations
Scenic Designer: Paul Brown
Costume Designer: Maria Björnson
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Sound Designer Mick Potter
Costume Coordinator for the late Maria Björnson: Christine Rowland
Video and Projection Designer: Nina Dunn
Musical Supervisor: John Rigby
Orchestrations: David Cullen
Magic Consultant: Paul Kieve
The Phantom Of The Opera: Derrick Davis
Christine Daaé: Katie Travis
Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny: Jordan Craig
Carlotta Giudicelli: Trista Moldovan
Monsieur Firmin: David Benoit
Monsieur André: Price Waldman
Madame Giry: Anne Kanengeiser
Ubaldo Piangi: Phumzile Sojola
Meg Giry: Emily Ramirez
Joseph Buquet: Victor Wallace
Policeman in Pit,: Jim Hogan
Auctioneer: Mark Emerson
Monsieur Reyer: Robert Anthony Jones
Princess: Kaitlyn Daivs, Jordan Ensign
Hairdresser: Travis Taylor (October 20-28), Adryan Moorefield (October 29), Dan Debenport (October 30)
Jeweler, Passarino: Edward Juvier
Slave Masters: Ted Keener*, Shane Ohmer**
Monsieur LeFévre, Firechief: Steve Czarnecki (October 20-21, 28-30), Dan Debenport (October 22-27)
Wild Woman: Sarah Mossman
Wardrobe Mistress: Marguerite Willbanks
Madame Firmin, Confidante (Ill Muto): Rebecca Robbins (October 20-23), Tynan Davis (October 25-27), Laura Mann (October 28-30)
Don Arrilio (Ill Muto): Quinto Ott
Porter: Eric Ruiz
Corps de Ballet:
McKenna Birmingham, Julie Eicher, Daniela Flippone, Abigail Mentzer, Ally Taylor Sacks, Micki Weiner
Swings: Steve Czarnecki, Tynan Davis, Dan Debenport, Sarah Deiase, Laura Mann, Adryaan Moorefield, Tara Sweeney
Dance Captain: Tara Sweeney
Assistance Dande Captain: Shane Ohmer
Under the Direction of: Dale Rieling
Violin: Michelle Maruyama
Keyboard: Michael Borth, Elaine Davidson, Ruth Kwan
Reed 1: Pam Adams
Reed II: Gary Whitman
Reed III: Daryl Coad
Reed IV: Sara Scurry
French Horn: Brian Brown
Violin: Arthur Busby
Violin: Jennifer Griffin
Viola: Susan Dubois
Cello: Debbie Brooks
Bass: Julie Vinsant
Reviewed Performance: 10/21/2016
Reviewed by Angela Newby, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The 52 piece orchestra that accompanies this tour of PTO is breathtaking and gave me chills during every crescendo. The score is made for a large orchestra and this one does not disappoint. It was by far one of my favorite elements of the whole production. The power and talent of the orchestra set the tone for the evening and allowed the talent on stage to be highlighted through their magic.
The plot of PTO is poignant and devastating as a disfigured man falls in love with his prodigy who rejects him for another man. It is in the final moments that Christine’s love for both men is so evident and so profound that ultimately leads to the release of her to her true love.
This version has been updated since my last viewing on Broadway, but is full of new life and energy, but still holds the heart and depth of the original. This version premiered in the UK in 2012 and came to The Winspear Opera House in 2014, and now graces The Bass with a fantastic set that had my jaw dropping Friday night.
Having such vivid memories of Phantom that move within my own love story, I was excited to see the changes. I have been told that they were magnificent and beautiful, and it did not disappoint. I was on the edge of my seat and so emotionally connected that by the end, my heart was standing still. While the Broadway version has its own unique traits, this version holds its own traits that had me speechless.
There was only one minor issue that I had with this version that I felt was missing from my original introduction. That is in Act Two at the Masquerade. The costumes and choreography were so tight that it felt forced like they were in their own music box. However, I did love the mirrored set within the Masquerade which played nicely with the blue lighting to obtain the mystic of the party.
Director Laurence Connor and Choreographer Scott Ambler have put together a musical that was meant to be unwrapped layer by layer and followed the heart of the book and lyrics and added elements that produced a cohesive production that was breathtaking. There were multiple new elements that blend perfectly.
The opening scene was dramatic and telling with them hidden behind a scrim that was covered in cobwebs. This places the auction perfectly and shows the demise that the opera house had become. My favorite new part was the monkey music box. While I loved the old wind up one, this one shows not only the composer side of the phantom, but also his inventive side. The music box has become a gold hexagon that opens into a bowl and the monkey shines as he clangs his cymbals. Yet it was the moveable set that has me awestruck from the first switch of the auction to the beginning of the rehearsal for Hannibal. The set was quickly transformed into the Paris Opera House with the golden box seats and top of the frame that was ornately designed with angels and wings. The crimson shades of the curtains only enhanced the beauty.
Choreographer Scott Ambler has created and re-imagined every number beautifully. While there were some execution issues when it came to synchronization with the ballet company, everything else was on point. In “Think of Me” during the dance rehearsal of Hannibal, there were two ballet dancers that were beautiful and elegant as they highlight Christine’s vocals. It was in “All I ask of You” though that chills raced through me as the slow poignant moves of Raoul, Christine, and The Phantom all edged towards the defining moment of Act One. In “Music of the Night” there was a chilling moment of how Ambler and Connor have shown the spell that The Phantom puts Christine under through the use of the Mirror and how easily she was controlled by him, giving a great subtext to the musical as a whole.
Act II, brought the disappointment of The Masquerade, but also gave the depth in “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” which uses slow and purposeful movements to show the heartache and devastation that Christine was going through. In “The Point of No Return” Christine and The Phantom perform a duet that was eluded with deep chemistry between the two, especially when she realizes that it was The Phantom, her facial expressions show everything, from recognition to condemnation when she removes his mask.
Yet it was the ending in The Phantom’s Lair that Connor and Ambler create a gut-wrenching love story. This was the part that had me. While Christine and Raoul were leaving, Christine returns to place the ring on the organ and hears him say he loves her, but ultimately her heart resides with Raoul. This leads powerfully into the ending scene where The Phantom was caught, but mysteriously disappears with the blocking of the single white mask behind held up. Wow!
From the beginning of the Prologue to the end of Act II, each and every scene was brilliantly pieced together to create a new Phantom of the Opera that highlights the original script and score and brings and added depth.
The design elements were phenomenal. Set design by Paul Brown gets a standing ovation all on its own. There were so many moving pieces to this set that were hidden and come to life within the show that were breathtaking. My favorite part of the whole set was the backside of the opera house that leads down to The Phantom’s lair. It was brilliantly created with hidden steps. As The Phantom was ready to walk down them, they appear from within the bricks. I audibly gasped and said, “WOW!” From here this massive set opens up to show The Phantom’s lair which was exquisite and filled with mystery and depth. His ornate organ and the real candles were magnificent. The boat was larger and the “water” holds a new dimension. Each of the elements from Christine’s dressing room to the managers’ office were elaborate and held a grander that one associates with PTO.
Nina Dunn, video and projection design, fits perfectly in synch with Brown’s sets. They were perfectly timed and create the perfect silhouettes to enhance the script to show the story of how The Phantom’s history created who he was today. Both the rooftop and the graveyard also use Dunn’s talent and they were added with the finest of detail.
The special effects created by Paul Kieve had me jumping out of my seat even when I knew to expect them. Be prepared to enjoy these elements that were amazing.
Lighting design by Paule Constable was dramatic and bold. Each and every scene was highlighted or lowlighted to bring out or into the shadows what was happening on stage. Each and every part adds an emotional element that draws you in. Constable’s use of candles helps illuminate the darkness of The Phantom’s lair and uses tight spotlights in the cemetery to gain depth to Christine’s solo.
Maria Bjornson’s costume design was beautiful. The costumes were regal and held an air of formality within in. There were not a lot of differences from the original production, but there were a few that spoke to me and showed her brilliance as a designer.
All the dancers showed their strength and beauty of their art and should be applauded. While there were some synchronization issues, these were overtaken by the creativity of Ambler. The dancers were strong and graceful. While the masquerade scene was tight, the choreography and execution of such was a sight to behold.
The ensemble, which played a multitude of characters shined and complemented each and every role. It was hard to distinguish each role they played as the moved from Hannible to II Muto. There was a bit of comedic relief within II Muto with the ensemble within their facial expressions and body movements. It was only through the ensemble with their energy and charisma that brought out the talent within this cast.
Monsieur Firmin, David Benoit, and Monsieur André, Price Waldman, were the two new owners of the Paris Opera House. They were full of greed and desire which was shown through their grins, expressive eyes and eyebrow movements. They added an additional level of comedy to the musical through the ability of Benoit and Waldman to always seek their own interest first. Yet it was their vocal inflection that really had the audience laughing.
Anne Kanengeiser, as Madame Giry, is the Opera Houses’ stern ballet mistress and holds the identity and secrets of The Phantom. Her over-protective characteristics were easy to spot through her glances at Christine and her tapping of her cane. Kanengeiser’s stiff posture and rigid facial expressions never faltered and only added to Madame Giry’s stern personality.
Meg Giry, played by Emily Ramirez, is Christine’s best friend and Madame Giry’s daughter. Her lilt vocals showed her hope for the future. Ramirez gave a solid performance in her role that allowed the audience to see the human side of Christine through this friendship.
Phumzile Sojola portrayed Ubaldo Piangi. Sojola’s accent goes in and out which was distracting. Vocally Sojola was strong and was highlighted in his roles in Hannibal and II Muto. In Hannibal he added a touch of comedic relief with his inability to use pronunciation correctly. Other than that, Sojola faded into the background and was hard to distinguish through the rest of the cast.
Trista Moldovan portrayed Carolotta Giudicelli, the diva actress who has a larger than life ego. Moldovan was able to produce this with her exaggerated facial expressions and rigid demeanor. She easily moved in between yielding to get her way, to straight out demanding what she believed she deserved. Moldovan was perfect in her vocals and operatic soprano voice.
Jordan Craig played Raoul, the childhood playmate of Christine who ultimately becomes her love. Criag’s chivalric performance was guided through his desire to protect Chrsitine which fully was made aware through his putting her out of harm’s way. The chemistry with Christine was evident through their sensual looks and embraces. In “All I ask of You” Craig sings out his heart and the crescendos naturally followed. His presence was captivating and he commanded every scene he belonged in.
Christine Daae was portrayed by Katie Travis, who was phenomenal. Vocally, Christine’s role is very demanding and Travis was able to hit each note impeccably. In “Think of Me” the audience was allowed to see the transformation of Christine through Travis’ wavering vocals and timid body language to her outright powerhouse vocals and erecting her body to the fullest height possible. It was a beautiful metamorphism and one of the highlights of the show. The chemistry between her and both men, Raoul and Phantom, are full of electric energy and self-doubt that is evident in her facial expressions and body language. Travis showed restraint in each movement to show her character’s inner turmoil. In “Wishing You Were Here Again” her soulful vocals moved the audience to truly understanding Christine and the decision she would make.
Derrick Davis was just announced as the Phantom and he does not disappoint. Davis was very dashing and charismatic as he enticed Christine into his lair with his stunning vocals and fluid body language and in turn led the audience to also fall under his spell. Davis played the extremely complex role of The Phantom with ease and finesses that when he finally displayed his vocal power, the audience was in awe. Vocally he displayed one of the most compelling and transparent performances that married his love of Christine and his desires impeccably. In “Music of the Night” he held each note forever and each measure of the aria only compounded from the one before it. It was fantastic and so easily entranced the audience. Every song that Davis sings is flawless and waiting for the next.
As for his acting abilities, again Davis worked through this complex role to bring a new dimension to The Phantom. Through long body lines and heart-wrenching body language the audiences sees The Phantom transform from one of almost stalkerish love to a man who has nothing left on his knees grasping at his work to hold on to anything by the end. Each movement was carefully measured and highlighted his strength and turmoil of his character.
The new production of The Phantom of the Opera pays great homage to the original by Webber and at the same time brings PTO into a production all of its own. This was one that was perfect for those who have never seen PTO before and ones that have fallen in love with it over and over again.
Broadway at the Bass brings this powerful production to life to Ft. Worth and you will be remiss to miss this fantastic new version of a beloved musical that brings life to the journey of love through a dynamic cast and crew. Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of this show-stopping version complete with new elements that will deepen your appreciation of The Phantom of the Opera.
Broadway at the Bass
Bass Performance Hall
4th and Calhoun Streets
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Runs through October 30th
Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 6:30 pm, and Thursday – Sunday at 1:30 pm. Tickets range from $44 - $275 according to day of week and seating choice.
For tickets and information, visit www.basshall.com, or call the box office at 817-212-4280, or toll free at 1-877-212-4280.