Monday, May 17, 2010

Phantom of the Opera by Sgouros & Bell

*WARNING: This will possibly contain spoilers, don't read if you want to be surprised and intend on going to this show!

Yesterday afternoon I had the wonderful privilege of being able to see the new off Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera written by Sgouros & Bell performing at the Player's Theatre. Overall the production was amazing, with very few flaws.

This Phantom is a musical that is based off of the novel by Gaston Leroux, this was pretty exciting to me as the only production to somewhat closely follow the novel before this was the 1925 film starring Lon Chaney.

The performance starts off with Gaston Leroux (they have made him a character in the show) shooting off his shotgun as he begins to explain the book he has just written. I was very impressed by this piece of partial phan trivia they decided to include in the show (it proves that they have done their research). Gaston Leroux used to fire a gun shot in his family home every time he finished a novel. As the performance continues Gaston Leroux's character appears onstage at different times to inform the audience about what is happening and to provide some background information.

The final act before intermission as well as the end of the performance are filled with intense drama. The wedding mass is sung before intermission after Erik informs the persian, that he is confident Christine loves him and has chosen to be with him. The last scenes of the play will had me in awe and at the edge of my seat from the moments where Raoul and the persian were in the torture chamber until the very end when Christine came back to fulfill her promise to bury Erik. The very last moments of the play show similarity to Andrew Lloyd Webber's version as the Phantom dissapears from his chair, once a cast member places a cloak over him, in Webber's version the phantom dissapears after he places his own cloak over himself.

It was so wonderful to see most of the book come to life, really exciting for any phantom phan. When Erik confesses to Christine that he is not an angel or ghost but just a man, I was shuttering. That part of the book has to be my favorite, it bought me back to memories of 8th grade when I first read the book and found out the phantom's name was Erik. I almost cried to realize the phantom had a name that I could now call him.

Eric Fletcher was an amazing phantom. I was slightly nervous because I didn't really like his mask from the production photos but his performance most definitely made up for the somewhat cyclops like mask. His voice was soft, slightly angelic, he mastered the hypnotic effect that the phantom's voice is supposed to have. He really brought Erik to life the way I always imagined how Erik would be if I was ever to see him. Eric Fletcher is definitely a phantom to be in love with.

Amanda Salvatore performed well as Christine. I was surprised because in the novel Christine's hair is blond. I believe it's brown in the Andrew Lloyd Webber version because of Sarah Brightman. I thought being that this performance was so close to the novel that they would have given Christine blond hair, whether the actress had to dye her hair or wear a wig.

The rest of the cast did well including Brianna Hurley. She performed dual roles as Mme. Valerius and Mme. Giry. She did a fine performance as the character of Mme. Giry, she was how I imagined Mme. Giry would be when I read the book. When she performed Mme. Valerius she was able to lighten up the show with some comic relief, which was a nice break from the intense drama that the phantom story can have.

There was no chandelier to fall in this production of phantom, but the chandelier is only a brief moment in the novel, so it can somewhat be forgiven. I'm not sure how they would have or could have worked in the chandelier fall anyway, and in the book the one person killed by the falling chandelier is Mme. Giry's concierge replacement, if they weren't able to tell the audience about that somehow if they had worked in a chandelier fall I am not sure I would have appreciated it so much anyway.

Overall this production is amazing with the right amounts of drama and song throughout the performance. This phantom is wonderful, and it is definitely worth seeing, especially for any phan. If there is anyway for a phan to get to NY if they don't live close to the city, they must do it simply for this play, and then Andrew Lloyd Webber's play as a bonus.