My all-time favorite musical, The Phantom of the Opera, is playing for another week at the Music Hall at Fair Park with Dallas Summer Musicals. You can get tickets now through January 6 and be whisked away by the music of the night.
The Phantom of the Opera is a twisted tale of romance, as chorus girl Christine becomes an opera diva under the tutelage of her Angel of Music – the Phantom, a mysterious musical genius who haunts the opera house and inspires Christine’s voice. After her triumphant debut performance, she reunites with her childhood sweetheart, opera patron Raoul – before coming face-to-face with the Phantom for the first time. The Phantom is enamored with Christine, and Christine is seduced by his music; yet she is also repulsed by his face and darker impulses, and drawn to the protective and dashing Raoul, setting the stage for a story of love, revenge, and pure operatic melodrama at its finest.
I first saw Phantom in 1995 with the Music Box national tour, and I’ve been hooked on the show ever since. This showing was my tenth time seeing a Phantom production and I’m one of those dorks who knows all the lyrics and most of the libretto by heart… so I consider myself a bit of a Phantom connoisseur. The best Phantoms expertly balance the passion, the mystique, the allure, the danger and the darkness, while the best Christines walk a fine line between fantasy and reality, leaving you never quite knowing if she’s mad or just under the Phantom’s spell. This tour boasts a talented cast all around, and Quentin Oliver Lee does a fine job of portraying a Phantom that is both sympathetic and severe, who both fascinates and repels the viewer. Eva Tavares’ Christine is crystalline-voiced, contemplative and conflicted as she weighs her choices throughout the play. Jordan Craig’s Raoul is powerful and protective, and a good balance for Lee’s brooding baritone and Tavares’ emotional soprano.
If you’ve never seen Phantom, this is a lovely experience and introduction to the music and the story. However, viewers who have experienced the incredible original production of the show on Broadway or in the older tour from the ‘90s and ‘00s may find the new production lackluster. It’s impossible not to compare if you’ve seen the original, and there are many areas where the grandeur and awe of the original production are very toned down (the boat ride in the title sequence and the masquerade ball come to mind). Some of the small scenes and details are missing entirely (the wedding dress, “Wandering Child”, portcullises, staircases), and some additions – such as a scene where the Phantom tosses Christine onto the bed in his lair and pins her there – feel uncomfortable (especially in the age of #metoo) and make this production’s Phantom more villain than antihero.
But overall the show still ensnares the senses and unfurls in splendor. I can’t help but love it, and I was especially enthralled that Dallas Summer Musicals gave us a behind-the-scenes peek into magic of the music of the night. Seeing some of the fabulous costumes up-close, checking out the beautiful chandelier (a new-production design that really shines), and meeting Quentin Oliver Lee was a dream come true for this phan!
The Phantom of the Opera continues through January 6 at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Get tickets here.