By Geoffrey Chown
After almost 30 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber and his team decided a re-fresh of the original show was in order and they have delivered a sumptuous delight of sound and light and technical wizardry. The costumes, based on archival designs by the late Maria Bjornson – the original designer- are an opulent treat. Paule Constable’s lighting is lavish and luscious. The set design by Paul Brown is clever and in particular a magical staircase is a standout.
Chris Mann and Katie Travis as the Phantom and his protégé Christine are oddly paired – their chemistry seems at times forced and without the passion/terror that I remember in past productions. Both are very capable singers and Mr. Lloyd Webber’s score is beautifully executed by the orchestra….but I wanted to be thrilled and frightened, and I wasn’t. Mann’s stage movements were fluid and fit his role; Ms. Travis’s Christine effected something between a skip and a bunny hop that might have better suited a Disney Princess.
Jacquelynne Fontaine is smashing as Carlotta, and in a role that is often played to the back row, she is restrained, wildly entertaining, and comes very close to stealing every scene she is in. Anne Kanengeiser brought a spark to the sometimes empty Madame Giry.
A night at this Opera is entertaining, charming, and highly enjoyable. Please note that I did not mention the chandelier once. Well, just the once.
Hop over to the Princess of Wales and, as the program suggests, “you will once again fall in love with the music of the night.”
Photo: “The Journey” (From L) Chris Mann as The Phantom and Katie Travis as Christine Daaé. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy.