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The Spectacular New Production (North American 2018 Tour)
Music by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics Charles Hart
Book & Additional Lyrics Richard Stilgoe

Dallas Summer Musicals

Creative Team:
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
Wig Creator: Angela Cobbin
Production Manager: Spencer New
Production Stage Manager: Eric Sprosty
Artistic Consultant: Thomas Schonberg

The Company:

The Phantom Of The Opera: Quentin Oliver Lee
Christine Daaé: Eva Tavares
Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny: Jordan Craig
Carlotta Giudicelli: Trista Moldovan
Monsieur Firmin: David Benoit
Monsieur André: Rob Lindley
Madame Giry: Susan Moniz
Ubaldo Piangi: Edward Juvier
Meg Giry: SarahGrace Mariani
Joseph Buquet: Victor Wallace
Policeman in Pit: Herb Porter
Auctioneer: Mark Emerson
Monsieur Reyer: David Foley, Jr.
Princess: Emma Grimsley
Hairdresser: Patrick Dunn
Jeweler (1) , Passarino: Stephen Mitchell Brown
Slave Masters: Adryan Moorfield
Princess: Jordan Ensign
Monsieur LeFévre: Dan Debenport
Wild Woman: Sarah Mossman
Wardrobe Mistress: Marguerite Willbanks
Madame Firmin, Confidante (Ill Muto): Carmen Vass
Hairdresser (1) Muto: Patrick Dunn
Don Arrilio (1) Muto: Adam Bashian
Porter: Jim Hogan
Corps de Ballet: Mckenna Birmingham, Daniela Flippone, Charlotte Hovey, Jordan Lombardi, Abigail Mentzer, Micki Weiner Danielle Reinstein, Tara Sweeney, Micki Weiner.

Reviewed Performance: 12/19/2018

Reviewed by John Garcia, Senior Chief Theater Critic/Editor/Founder, THE COLUMN. Member, AMERICAN THEATRE CRITICS ASSOCIATION for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

This eye popping visually revised version of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award winning Phantom Of The Opera first came to Dallas to the ATT performing Arts Center in 2014 ( which I reviewed). It has now returned and parked its gondola this time at the Music Hall at Dallas Summer Musicals (now through January 6, 2019).

Reviewing it a second time only cements my opinion that I much prefer this version than the original. It is epic and much more opulent in its design of sets , costumes, lighting, and projections. But viewing it a second time I observed how much more grounded the staging and blocking was in connecting both the actors and the subtext that in the original. It ebbed much clearly and had a flow of both raw intensity and sweet innocence. Also, I discovered (after having seen Phantom so many times now) that this updated version has a much more devastating ending than the original. The blocking and naturalism of that ending are beautifully created by the Phantom and Christine. It is all subtext and with subtle acting, but also so deeply moving.

However, I still have qualms with some of the cuts that was done within the score and the speeding up of some tempos. This “rushing” of the music I felt created a ripple effect of the principals losing their emotional moment within their arc of their characterization and/or subtext. For example, after Christine and Raoul sing “All I Ask Of You”, the Phantom appears behind a statue. He apparently heard them profess their love. The Phantom then sings a reprise of “All I Ask of You”, in the original, it is sung with a long sustaining of measures of music and voice by the Phantom. But here it is cut in half. Another moment is the Phantom’s entrance at the Masquerade. He has this haunting, thumping staccato of orchestration for each step he took. Here that is all gone. But those are minor qualms.

Even with all this gloss of shimmering costumes and wizarding technology of sets and projections, it is still the performances that create the true magic of this musical.

I have always enjoyed the over the top buffoonery fluff of the “Il Muto” opera sequence, but this time around, the actors had a much fresher, and hysterical approach to the scene and music. My guest and I had seats much closer to the stage, so I was able to see their facial expressions much better this time around. Carmen Vass as the Confidante, Patrick Dunn as the Hairdresser, Adam Bashian as the old husband Don Arrilio, and Trista Moldovan as the countess having the affair. They are costumed in crushed silks and satins, trimmed in beads and sequins. Their faces heavily painted, topped off with powered wigs. And off this quartet goes into a side-splitting operatic number that was foppish, snooty, and outlandish. Perfection.

Kudos to see Dallas native Adryan Moorfield take the lead role of slave master in the Hannibal number! He danced with great authority and commanded the stage and leaped high with ease.

Also providing marvelous work within this fantastic cast include: Susan Moniz as Madame Giry, who gave her characterization a more compassionate subtext that I found refreshing than the usual frigid emotionless woman that most have played her in the past; Edward Juvier as Ubaldo Piangi, the male diva who has problems with his diction; SarahGrace Mariani as Meg Giry; Victor Wallace as the brutish Joseph Buquet: and finally David Benoit as Monsieur Firmin and Rob Lindley as Monsieur André, the new owners of the Opera. These two made a terrific comic duo as they play off each other flawlessly all evening long.

Trista Moldovan portrays la grand diva of the Paris Opera House, Carlotta Giudicelli. Ms. Moldovan physically looks like a young stunning Elizabeth Taylor. I was greatly impressed that she took the role in a completely new path. She gave Carlotta more of a seductive, stronger woman who fought more against the men and the phantom. She didn’t immediately go for Christine, but at them. Moldovan gave Carlotta a much funnier base of comedy that past Carlotta’s that I’ve seen as well. She brought out exciting, grand new laughs were normally there wasn’t. Her soprano clean opera voice was pristine. It was not heavy or sagged with the turkey neck vibrato that tends to creep up with some sopranos. She had the firm, tight control all evening long. She is a major highlight of the entire evening.

Jordan Craig is Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, the romantic lead that battles for Christine’s heart with a dude that wears a mask. His two co-stars (Quentin Oliver Lee and Eva Tavares) both have more operatic voices, Craig possesses a modern Broadway/Pop Tenor vocal, which I found as a marvelous contrast to blend within these two voices. When it came to the trios, it created for some exciting and bold new musicality and vocals that actually livened up the score. Craig’s chemistry with Ms. Tavares was sizzling and worked beautifully throughout the musical.

Quentin Oliver Lee portrays the Phantom and Eva Tavares is Christine Daaé, both deliver sensational performances. Their chemistry is riveting from the first scene to the very last heartbreaking moment. Mr. Lee is very tall, while Ms. Tavares is tiny, so this gives great visuals for a lot of their scenes. Their vocals are outstanding and powerful. They both have amazing belts, their diction is crisp, their vibratos are firmly in their control, and they both peel into their subtext of their lyrics to pull emotionally the truth of their characterizations. If I had to be nitpicky the one issue, they both had at the performance I attended was that they both did not sustain their notes as I have seen in past Phantoms and Christines have done in their solo numbers. Such as at the end of “Music of The Night” (Phantom), “Think of Me” (Christine), “All I Ask of You” Reprise (Phantom), and “Wishing You Were Here” (Christine). Nonetheless, they both are superlative and the stars of this production and their tour de force performances should not be missed!

With Christmas right around the corner, I STRONGLY urge you to treat yourself to the perfect holiday gift, and that is to get tickets to see this completely new glittery, spectacular vision of Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. It is actually so, so much better than the original!

The Spectacular New Production (North American 2018 Tour)
Music by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics Charles Hart
Book & Additional Lyrics Richard Stilgoe
Dallas Summer Musicals
REVIEWED BY Senior Chief Theater Critic / Editor John Garcia for THE COLUMN