PHANTOM RETURNS TO SAN FRANCISCO
In an extraordinary new production
By Iride Aparicio
Photos by: Matthew Murphy
The original cast of the company performing “Masquerade”
Photos by Matthew Murphy
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Since it premiered at Her Majesty Theatre in London, on 9 October, l986, The Phantom of the Opera has been a phenomenal success. Running for thirty years, it was the longest-running musical on Broadway, and it continues delighting the London’s audience.
In 2012, To celebrate Phantom’s Twenty five year anniversary, a new CAMERON MACKINTOSH’s production of ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S The Phantom of the Opera was created. In its new production, Phantom returned to SHN Orpheum Theatre in the city, where it was shown to the press on September 7th. We could state, after watching it, that If the original production was fantastic, the new one is extraordinary
In all its aspects, the Phantom’s 25th Anniversary Production is visual. The costumes, designed by MARIA BJORNSÖN, are elaborate and colorful. The choreography by SCOTT AMBLER, enhanced by the lighting design by PAULE CONSTABLE, seem to transform into an oil painting every scene.
The most colorful scene in Phantom the musical, is the stage of the Paris Opera house in l9ll, during the “Dress rehearsal of Hannibal,” (a fictional opera) which includes: Hannibal’s opera diva Carlota Giudicelli ( TRISTA MOLDOVAN). The opera’s tenor, Ubaldo Piangi (PHUMZILE SOJOLA) riding on a golden chariot, (Center of photograph below). A group of ballet dancers, one of them Christine Daaé (EVA TAVARES). Two princesses (EMMA GRIMSLEY) and (KAITLYN DAVIS). A wild woman (SARAH MOSSMAN). An Slave Master (SHANE OHMER) four uniformed archers and a mixed choir. Framed at both sides by the rococo-adorned golden opera boxes, the scene represents an undefined place with a colorful sunset, swaying palms, the elaborate structure of a house, and a life-size elephant.
The elaborate set of the fictitious Opera Hannibal in PHANTOM
And without a doubt, the most creative addition to this production is its new set, Designed by PAUL BROWN, which is a wonder of engineering. When closed, it looks like a massive black pillar, towering on the stage. When opened, each different door displays a different set, so in seconds, it transports the audience to different rooms inside the Paris’ Opera, to its corridors, or to its lighted stage. And in contrast, to its dark roof, and to the darkest underground cavernous dwelling of Phantom.
The new set is used to its best, in the Corps de Ballet Dressing room scene, where after singing a lead in a new opera, Christine is changing clothes. as Raoul, Viscomte de Chagny, (JODAN CRAIG) waits for her outside.
Filling the room, the soft voice of Phantom. is heard, ordering the girl to get up and face her mirror. As in a trance, Christine starts waking to the mirror, which is the size of a door. When the mirror opens, she is seized by Phantom.
In a matter of seconds, her Dressing Room changes into a dark humid corridor where coming down a series of steps, we watch Phantom (QUENTIN OLIVER LEE) a tall thin man with sleek black hair and half of his face hidden by a white mask, descending to the subterranean lake in the dungeons of the Paris Opera building, holding Christine, the girl he had just abducted, by the hand.
He is elegantly dressed in a black tuxedo and matching cape, and is holding a lamp in his right right hand, because the path is dark.
Both arrive at a subterranean lake, where fog, like a white blanket, floats over the water. They get into a gondola, and with Phantom rowing, navigate through a dark labyrinth until they arrive to Phantom’s dwelling.
Phantom (Quentin Oliver Lee) and Christine ,(Eva Tavares)
His cavernous home is elaborately furnished and because it is dark, illuminated by many
candles. And it is there where Phantom expresses in The music of the Night, his passion to Christine, the beautiful ballet dancer that he had been teaching to sing for many years. More than a song, it is a plea for the love he expects as payment for the years he spent teaching her to sing. He then asks her to allow the darkness of the night cover his ugliness, and allow her passions to take over her body and feel his love. She faints
One may say that when ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, composed the music of Phantom, he made it operatic by giving it an Overture, and, if we listen carefully to DAVID CULLEN and WEBBER’s orchestrations, they have the rich sound of an opera. The lyricism in songs like Think of Me, could easily be arias, and each song moveshe action of the drama.
In Think of me, for instance, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny (JORDAN CRAIG pictured below) reveals to the audience in the song, that he previously met Christine (TAVARES) when both were young,and could never forget her. Later on, singing the same song with different lyrics, he tells the police, a way they could catch Phantom that night.
Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny (JORDAN CRAIG)
At the beginning of the Musical, when ballet dancer Meg Giri (EMILY RAMIREZ) congratulates Christine Daaé, a former ballet dancer, for her singing and asks her who has been her voice teacher, Christine describes PHANTOM, as the “Angel of Music” that her late father (who was a famous violinist) promised to send her. “Now, he is inside me, she says, I can feel him when I sing” When she asks him to appear, Phantom does.
The plot in Phantom tells a love story, but what makes this love story different from other love stories, is that its protagonist is not a handsome prince, but a human monster with a genius mentality for music. Madame Giry (KRISTIE DALE SANDERS) describes him to Raoul, as a child who arrived in Paris with a circus and was shown inside a cage as a freak. Apparently, she rescues him when he escaped. and kept him in the subterranean caves of the Paris Opera.
And Phantom grew up. and when he did, he discovered that his problem was not the deformity of his face, (which could be covered behind a mask)but his being a man, with needs and desires and a loving heart. Sadly, this man is passionate in love with a beautiful woman and nothing will stop him from possessing her. The woman is Christine Daneé.
Quentin Oliver Lee THE PHANTOM and Eva Tavares as Christina Daaé
Based on the novel “Le Fantóme de l’Opéra” written by GASTON LEROUX with book by RICHARD STILGOE and ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, the Phantom of the Opera, is a unique story. In its new version, directed by LAURENCE CONNOR, each one of the actors master his or her role, and sing their songs in well-trained voices. and the new character of Phantom, is real, and more human. He shows the audience his tenderness, his longings, his frustration, his rage and his passion. In its new version, The Phantom of the Opera is extraordinary.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will play at the SHN ORPHEUM THEATRE 1192 Market Street in San Francisco until September 30, 2018. For tickets you can go online to www.shnsf.com or call 888-746-1799.