The bright chandelier shimmers over the first five rows of the audience. The rich reds of the curtain and subtle gold lighting creates a dramatic tone. The auctioneer utters one of the most famous lines “Perhaps we can scare away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination!” And with this Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success begins.
As one of the largest shows now on tour, Mackintosh’s Production, filled with haunting transitions between minor and major melodies, delightful arias intertwined with moments of heart-pounding silence, and a motif that doesn’t leave you until well after exiting the theatre, is magical.
Having seen the show just last year in the mesmerizing Majestic Theatre in New York City, I was apprehensive and biased, this being my favorite musical. However, I soon relaxed as the familiar overture began to play. The size of the cast and stage was smaller than on Broadway, as expected, but this didn’t detract from the story.
Mackintosh’s production provided a sense of vitality. The vivid colors of the lights and costumes served as a refreshing contrast to the darkness of the Phantom’s lair. While in New York, a somber tone flooded every scene.
What really separated this version from other tours was the Phantom, the man behind the mask – Cooper Grodin. Grodin, avid singer of all genres and an accomplished pianist and composer, was nothing short of spectacular. His voice, though less whiny and emotional than what I heard in New York, encaptured the complexity of the Phantom – he isn’t just a shadowy figure sent to torture the Opera House – he has a soul, feelings. Grodin’s voice sounded younger, as well, but hardly immature. The urgency in his voice, movements, and acting nicely contrasted the lengthy score.
In all, the emotion was palpable, the effects stunning. While sitting so close to the stage I expected to see every “cool special effect” for what it really was, but every transition appeared smooth and on cue. The night flew by, every cry and scream of the Phantom, every crescendo, and every unexpected melodic disruption left the audience with a haunted feeling – because in some way we all can relate to the Phantom and the other dysfunctional members of the Opera House.